Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
- record a tour in the normal way,
- drag and drop the pegman (orange man icon on the main screen controls) half way through to enter streetview
- navigate around in streetview
- click 'Exit Street View' button top left of your screen to exit street view
- stop the tour.
- What better way to direct your friends to the pub?
- Real estate (relators in US speak) adverts showing the town amenities close to their property
- Teaching human geography
Friday, November 12, 2010
- Martini Glass Presentation: The importance of an introduction, context setting and explanation of what you can 'do' with an interactive web graphic or complex print graphic (section III: Telling Data Stories). Without this, your creation is just a set of pretty colours to the user. The Martini glass stem represents the video clip slide presentation introduction and the triangular glass represents the freedom of the user to explore the graphic on their own.
- Attractive Does Not = Effective: A beautiful looking stream graphic showing box office results for movies with time is discussed in part IV, various commentators point out that it grabs attention wonderfully but then is difficult to interpret what it shows.
Monday, November 8, 2010
- Easier to grab and move the jaws, in GEarth the jaws are too small
- The play button only allows the jaws to move together, in GEarth you can press play and the far side of the jaws will move which is too complex for users to understand and utilise IMHO
- The time labels are simple and clear whereas in GEarth the labels are more fussy
- The blue shading communicates 'this is the time range' in a clear way and its semi transparent so you can see the graph below it.
The building clip has a poor frame rate and the building isn't manipulated in some way (like showing the inside rooms) but otherwise, the format is exactly the same. I'm in the middle of researching to best design tours at the moment and the Seung clip is a lovely illustration of how the results of my studies will not just apply to GEarth and other Virtual Globes but to any 3D visualisation system where zooming across scales in a film clip is important.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
<description>shortly after the eruption</description>
...same data as above in here...
Thursday, October 7, 2010
The above image is of the English channel and is from the intriguing Fata Morgana which, using the latest feature in the Google Maps API has taken away everything but the words (and in the UK, what words! 'Hougham Without' in the middle of the image sounds lovely).
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
- The spill is still ongoing
- I wanted to have a go at a talk completely in Google Earth to showcase my ideas of what a well designed tour should be like.
- The tour covers views across a range of scales, this is where a tour really beats a traditional PowerPoint presentation
- Simple Flights: The flights between segments are simple and fairly slow to give users chance to process the movement and work out where they are being taken.
- Scale: I included Nelson's column, the outline of Great Britain (twice) and a 5 mile long at various points to fix a sense of scale. GEarth is very good at helping users grasp the scale of things.
- Annotations: I use lots of annotations to draw the user's eye to the correct part of the screen.
- Dateline: Because the inbuilt GEarth dateline is too small I included a custom dateline indicator.
- Dateline is too small: I fell into the classic trap of looking at GEarth on a large screen then reducing down to a 640 wide movie clip - you can't read the text easily.
- Audio Hiccups: There are a few audio hiccups that I'd like to fix but these aren't easy in Camtasia without affecting the video. I've got to get a better mic too....
- Better Images: There are a ton of better images I'd have liked to have used but I haven't got the time to ask permission. Every image used is cc marked and that limits choice.
Friday, July 23, 2010
"The truth is, we're mostly engineers, not cartographers. I'd love to see some great guides to how to style your map. Anyone want to give it a go?"
- Not Just Cartography: Mano's request was asking about the new style features. Actually only 2 of the tips [5 and 6] relate to the new feature because IMHO a holistic approach to map design is necessary so you have to consider usability, graphic design and interactivity as well.
- Not Just for Developers: I aimed the material at developers but its a good introduction to design for anyone thinking of putting an interactive map together because I don't use any jargon.
- Discussion of Styling: My post discussing the lack of cartographic advice that went with the styling feature release. Ed Parson's post is also relevant.
Friday, July 16, 2010
I'm going to review it more fully next week when I have more time, there are a number of other interesting design features to the project.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
- It takes 2 clicks to open a presentation (open balloon, select link)
- Opening a GDocs presentation in the GE browser currently crashes GE pro!
Friday, July 2, 2010
- I like the zoomable interface idea Prezi shares with GEarth tours
- Prezi is very usable and Camtasia is not bad
- Doing it this way I like the way I can be discussing one set of points but adding arrows to link back to earlier slides of content.
- Using 3 bits of software is a drag (GEarth, Prezi and Camtasia 7) and is time consuming
- I don't like the way Prezi.com promotes the idea of rotating text all over the place, I've heard reports it makes people feel sick.
- Hans Rosling: Excellent speaker with great use of technology
- Lawrence Lessig: Great speaker, interesting and unique style but I'm not sure I like how linear it is.
- Ken Robinson: Amazing, totally absorbing using just his voice. Good to remember that technology is not what makes a great talk, its the talk itself and the speaker.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
A few points to make about the tour:
- Quick!:Whole thing took me 2 hours, including a fair amount of time spent locating where the spaces were. In a day I could create something slick looking.
- Streetview: You can get streetview in Google earth (they have their own layer), by copying the photo spheres into the tour folder you can incorporate them in the tour as I have. Gives you great local context.
- Viewing Elements: I imported the photos into Google Earth as photo overlays - you just drag and drop them from windows explorer into the main GE window. Its very quick but you cannot enter the viewing mode in the tour which is a pain, same with the streetview photo spheres. On a tour you can pause the tour and double click the elements and you'll be able to enter photo viewing mode, have a go to see what I mean.
- Avoiding Cyber Sickness: If you throw the camera about wildly its possible to induce cyber sickness in viewers and even if you don't do that, wild camera moves confuse users, they don't know where they are. You can see that I tend to zoom and pan in and out whilst keeping the view north-top vertically-down. If I want a tilted view with a non north bearing I do that when zoomed right it, trying to keep the relevant screen elements in view as I do so. Zooming out, I straighten up the view before zooming out.
- Overview Map/relative locations: To help users build up a cognitive map of where all the elements are (so they can effectively explore afterwards) I start and end with an overview of all the locations and between locations fly up to this overview. When panning from place to place I keep elements in view so users can get an idea of their relative locations.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Update 12/6: I spelt Indiemapper wrongly as Indemapper which I've now corrected. Thanks for the heads up Maarten.
- Good Map Design as Default: By integrating colorbrewer and typebrewer into the package and providing design advice in contextual help they've produced an app that promotes good design. Yay!
- Cloud Based: This is aimed at people who don't need the full power of desktop GIS and its a cloud based service so you can access you work from any computer.
- Group Working: Is also possible and I can see lots of potential for this.
- Contextual help: As well as supporting good design, contextual help is a real usability plus - instead of having to waste time finding the help section that deals with your particular problem, a contextual help button takes you straight to what you need.
- Integration with PhotoShop: Axis maps have made a point of making it easy to export from Indemapper into other software such as photoshop.
- Projections: Indemapper is promoted as being good at handling projections. I can see where Axis is coming from about this but I don't think projections are as important as they make out.
- No User Manual (yet): Mark explained to me that one of the audiences they had in mind for Indiemapper was for people not expert in GIS who don't need full GIS functionality. For those people the GIS like interface is intimidating, they really need a set of step by step tutorials on howto make a map with Indiemapper. Contextual help just doesn't fill the need properly. Mark said they had a series of video tutorials planned covering this.
- Free for Educational Users: All Unis I know will have GIS teaching materials authored for Arc. IMHO to persuade a tutor to switch to Indiemapper for teaching the educational licence cost has to be zero and at the moment, its just a reduction. Both ArcGIS Explorer online and GeoCommons are both free.
- Desert Fog on Startup: When first opened Indiemapper has a blank screen. For users who have been making maps in NeoGeo tools like Google Earth or Google Maps, they will be confused and a little intimidated that there isn't a base layer visible. Better to have a default layer visible that users can change than a blank, desert fog screen.
- Static Maps only: Indiemapper isn't designed to produce interactive maps. Mark said this was something they would consider in the future. I agree with him that there's a ton of applications for static maps but I'd like to see some simple interactions possible - clickable pop up balloons with simple html would do.
- GIS Metaphor: Indiemapper works on a GIS metaphor in that a database is linked to a map. If you open a few layers and click on a point you will pull up the normal GIS attribute table. This is second nature to anyone who's worked GIS but newbie map makers will be confused, attribute tables and how it links to a map are quite a complex concept to understand and manipulate. Mark explained to me that the design team spent time discussing if there was a better way to organise a map than layers. I agree with their decision to use layers as the way to organise the map, I can't see a way around that, but I think they could have adopted an interface where data is still arranged in layers but the underlying data structure (XML as it happens) is hidden from the users view by simple screen interactions. Google Earth operates in this way, you don't get to see the KML with simple main screen operations.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Research shows that an audio commentary is much easier to understand than a narrative delivered via on screen text. Labels identifying major sections of the animation also add value. However, adding background music has been shown to be valueless - it's just a distraction in an educational situation.
Audio and visual elements should match in a GET because you shouldn't make users interpret two different presentations at the same time. A critique of a GET which did not follow this advice can be found in an earlier blog post of mine under the heading; "Talk about what's on Screen"
Audio Practicalities: I describe how to produce an audio GET in this tutorial
If the GET audio track has a descriptive line like 'and here you can see the extent of the Scottish Highlands' use an on screen marker such as a polygon to draw the viewers eye to the location concerned. Annotations like this should be used throughout tours, its easy to learn about a study area by doing a tour and forget that your users haven't formed a cognitive map. Annotating what you're discussing is a solution to this.
Despite the best intentions, and having created a GET that you think looks and sounds excellent, often users miss elements that you thought you had made obvious or they misinterpret the message of the tour in ways that the author had not considered. The only solution is to test 2 or 3 typical users before releasing your GET, fortunately, this is much quicker, simpler and cheaper than you would imagine following Hallway testing guidelines.
6. Use of Layers:
A layer refers to a set of data, examples include: a thematic map showing voting by region in an election or a set of placemarks showing locations of pizza restaurants. If you wish to explain a complex map which is made up of a combination of layers e.g. showing that right wing voter States in the USA have more pizza restaurants in them, you will need to use multiple layers. It helps your users if you turn the layers on one by one in your tour explaining what the screen is showing as you go. Showing them all the layers at once and trying to explain what they are seeing is less clear.
Sometimes layers are complex enough to require annotations themselves (e.g. circling an area of particularly dense concentration of pizza restaurants)
Layers Practicalities: In running through a tour to record an audio it can often help to collect separate layers into a folder. When running through the tour you can then select a camera view for the folder and turn all the elements in it on and off at the same time. For example, you could put the pizza restaurants layer and a polygon annotation mentioned above in one folder.
Friday, May 28, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
d] North is Top: Country shapes are most recognizable to users with a 'North at top' orientation. If possible your camera angle should keep this bearing in flights.
If you access Tools > Options > Touring > When recording a tour, you get a slider. Moving this slider to the right increases the smoothness of flight (by increasing the number of 'points' in space GEarth records) but will increase the size of file users will need to open to see your tour. For small tours, the size issue isn't usually an issue. Experiment with different settings to see the effect.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Best Practices: Many best practices in using GETs are the same as best practices for producing maps in Google Earth, for example, good icon design. In the following discussion we refer to best practices that apply mainly to producing GETs. They are arranged in rough order of complexity with the easiest to implement listed first.
1. Scale, Location and GETs A GET is best applied when displaying changes of scale and location. The above example shows an overview of the ships route before zooming in on the ship itself to add detail. If changes of scale and location are not important your narrative it is quicker and just as effective to use presentation software such as PowerPoint.
2. Rules of Thumb for GET Flights These section 2 best practices are part of a group about how to best move the camera viewpoint within a GET.
a] Looped Flight: It is possible to fly from location to location in a way that confuses the user. For example, if we were to position the user over a house in the UK and then fly them rapidly to a house in South Africa at a low altitude the user may fail to realise which country they have ended up in. If the flight path follows a looped path pausing at high altitude with both houses in view, the user has the opportunity to see that they have flown South over the Mediterranean before descending to South Africa.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
you can see that our visual system is incredibly good at spotting small changes* in an image but that it doesn't work if a blank 'flicker' screen is inserted between changes. If you go to the BBC map and select different constituencies the map blanks the screen and flies you out and back in again. Not only is the flight back in unnecessary, the introduction of a blank screen hampers our visual memory to track changes.
*Interestingly, its an evolutionary adaption, spotting a small leaf twitching was the difference between being eaten by a lion trying to ambush you or getting away alive to our ancestors in Africa. Its also the reason you can find a flashing cursor on screen.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
- You can add annotations, text or titles to the image in step . In fact, you don't even need the image, you could have a diagram to show.
- Add a title to the placemark in step 
- If there are any alterations to the image in Google Docs it will show up in placemarks even if opened on another computer.
- The images won't appear if you are offline, if this is important to you then use the spreadsheet system
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
IMHO its the most important instance of what is becoming known as VGI (Volunteered Geographic Information) yet to occur on the web. Those who organised it and those who just took part deserve a great deal of respect, I think we’re going to see a lot more mapping like this in future emergency situations and this was the first example. As they point out, key to this was the rapid publication of high quality satellite imagery.
As it happens, I’ve just completed PolyMap a VGI based educational project for Southampton University where we got the students to create a thematic map via a web service based on Google Maps API* . They mapped tree cover around Mt St Helens volcano in USA to see how trees had recovered since the 1980 eruption, click the image to see a demo:
Thoughts for Others considering setting up VGI: Most of the following was obtained via written student feedback:
- I gave students a background presentation of how VGI related to crowd sourcing and other VGI projects (here as a PDF), the students said this helped them realise what they were doing was a valid technique beyond the Mt St Helens problem. Could be useful as a motivator in non-educational situations?
- I split the area into a grid and assigned them a square each. This helped in getting the entire area mapped although there was some problems with people working in the wrong square etc.
- They complained that the classification scheme was difficult to apply whilst I had thought it was fairly simple and well explained. It goes to show that great care is needed in defining and then explaining classification schemes. My video tutorials on how to produce the map were very popular, fool proof documentation and instructions are well worth the investment of time.
- They liked the fact that I collated the data and interpreted it in a presentation after they had finished and working in groups on a shared problem.
- Advances in Google MyMaps since we started the project mean it would have been possible and much easier to do this project using Google MyMaps rather than the bespoke PolyMap service.
- Student feedback was the most positive feedback I've had for a long time!
- The 1980 Mt St Helens eruption is a great topic to teach using technology, satellite images, youtube clips and photographs from USGS are out there in abundance. I think having an interesting context (the eruption) is possibly more important to the learning than the quality of the VGI data.