Thursday, August 26, 2010

Personal Website Update

Following yesterday's post, I thought I should get started updating my personal website. It was surprisingly quick and easy, I'm all done!

I've added items to the publication, project, lesson plan and tutorial sections that weren't listed before (if you've followed this blog, I've discussed most of them here). I've also fixed broken links and generally had a good old tidy up. Very satisfying!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Current Projects: Haiti, Tours, Education and China

This summer has been very busy so I haven't got around to updating projects on my personal web pages. There are a number of projects that I'm working on at the moment that aren't listed and deserve a mention:

Haiti Maps Usability: I am supervising Luke Caley an MSc project student looking at usability of maps in the Haiti earthquake disaster, Luke is talking to people who where there at the early stages of the disaster investigating how maps and mapping were used in the field. There is a related area about the usability of crowd sourced map systems that is fascinating but unfortunately beyond the scope of this study.

Our theory is that Aid workers are a group for whom map usability is critical: when you publish a map on the web user's are only ever a click away from watching cats falling off sofas on YouTube. In an emergency situation the attention of aid workers is even worse - trying to figure out your map is time they could be using to pull people out from under collapsed buildings. So far the interviews seem to be showing that our theory is basically correct. Lots of organisations are generously giving time to helping us, for example ImageCat and MapAction. Final results are due in this autumn.

Google Earth Tour Research: Research is continuing into defining best practices for using tours in virtual globes (see 58:12 into this video for my talk on earlier work). Our results will apply to any virtual globe but for this study we've chosen to use Google Earth. Our main areas of investigation are into seeing how speed of flight and path geometry in tours affect the user's ability to track where they are within Google Earth. The video clip below illustrates the effect tour path has on user understanding, keeping track of where you are is easier on the outbound flight than on the return inbound leg:

User testing on students is planned for September and the results will be used in teaching materials. These materials will support students who will produce their own tours as part of a Southampton University GIS course. The study is funded by GEES.

Usability of Google Earth Materials in Education: I'm working with Declan De Paor from Old Dominion University and others on an NSF funded educational project where I'm providing input on usability issues. It's very early days on this project but Declan's examples give a good taste of what we're going to get up to.

China: I'm also off to China working with John Dearing and others where I'll be using Google Earth to communicate with Chinese farmers helping to alleviate poverty. Again, the project has yet to really kick off.

Next year is looking busy but exciting!

(update 26 Aug: Corrected Declan's surname spelling mistake)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Back Button, Places Column Tip

Back Button: As I move around in GEarth, GMaps and other mapping systems it occurred to me that I'd really like to have a back button to fly me back to the last view or back to the last placemark I looked at similar to the way a browser back button takes you back to the last page. You could have a whole history recorded like a GEarth tour which you could replay until you found the location you wanted.

Places Column Tip: There are 3 parts to the element listing in the GEarth places column which can be clicked with different effects. I use this most times I have GEarth open.

Monday, August 2, 2010 GEO Viewer Fail

Via James Fee I picked up on the new GEO Viewer. I couldn't get it to work either. Marten Hogweg reviews it and it's worth reading the comments: webotter picks out problems with the UI of the viewer.