Rick Santorum (R-AccuWeather) Defeated

Peter Suber points out that users of rich NWS data feeds won big last night. The sponsor of S.786 has been sent home. Suber says it was a good night overall for open access to research data. FRPAA co-sponsor Joe Lieberman was re-elected and pro-OA Sherrod Brown replaces Mike DeWine. Are there any seasoned industry watchers who want to make an assessment of the impact on the geospatial business?

FRUGOS Event November 14

Brian Timoney is organizing a FRUGOS get-together:

Where: Old Chicago's Pizza, 11th & Pearl (Pearl St. Mall, downtown Boulder)

When: November 14, 6PM

What: Pizza and beer

There will be a demo of "Geospatial Open Source on a (Memory) Stick".

For laughs, check out the sponsored links that Google finds relevant to Brian's post. Strippers and holistic medicine (at Tue Nov 7 10:53:09 MST 2006). WTF?!

GIS and Democracy

There's been a lot of buzz over the past few years about how GIS is democratizing everything. The power to peek at your neighbors' backyards, strip mines, and refugee camps has been called democracy. Maybe it is, or at least is raw material for democracy. Myself, right now, I'm more concerned about political equality and the right to participate in choosing representatives in government. Bottom line: does GIS enfranchise us? If not, all this democratization talk is just hot air.

There are at least three phases of the US election process that might involve GIS:

Districting. Is GIS mainly used to produce fair, competitive, districts that encourage compromise and consensus? Or is it used to produce "safe" districts where the minority lives under semi-permanent tyranny?

Campaigning. Is GIS mainly used to find first-time or infrequent voters and educate them about issues? Is it used in coordinating dirty tricks such as voter-suppression robo-calls, or bogus calls about polling place changes?

Voting. Is GIS used to bring extra staff and equipment to needy districts so that voting can proceed quickly and efficiently? Or is it being used to short-change particular districts based on their location and demographics?

The balance is going to vary greatly across the US. After all we do have thousands of independent elections going on, all of them with their own unique procedures, standards, and equipment. It's a completely amateur operation, to be honest, and susceptible to ineptitude and corruption. Is GIS making the situation better, or worse?

For what it's worth, I have a personal anecdote. I did volunteer GIS work in 2004 for local and state compaigns, mainly helping to coordinate canvassing. Simple maps and geocoders astounded and boggled the staffers. "You can take a list of addresses and map them?! Right in front of us?! In seconds?!" Other than my various hacks, there was no GIS employed by these campaigns at all. I couldn't believe how geographically half-assed they were. Still, we managed to go 3-2 :)

Plone and Atom

The PleiadesGeo software I've been developing serves up Atom feeds, and now it seems we can suck such feeds back in. I asked Stephan Richter at the Plone Conference whether Plone would benefit from standardizing on Atom. His take was that Atom is too generic, and that the applications developed by Lovely Systems needed richer and more precise expression. I'm still interested in seeing what we can accomplish using more generic structures.

I get to work on something closely related today. PleiadesGeo already serializes content to KML for display in Google Earth. Now we're working on opening up the inbound lanes.

Spatial Resources Spam

Is it just me, or do others get unsolicited press releases from Spatial Resources, LLC? What have I ever said or done that would make them think I was interested? I've cancelled my so-called subscription before, but apparently they've decided that I needed to be put back on the spam list.

.NET: Meh

James is right: I'm not very interested in proprietary platforms. The funny thing about .NET is that I can ignore it, mock it, invest nothing in it, knowing that when I absolutely have to, I can turn on a dime and be very productive on it thanks to IronPython. Hopefully, ElementTree and the Python Imaging Library will be ported before that day comes.

I'm also not big on "team" blogs. I blog because I like to write and have something to say. Looking through my list, I'm not currently subscribing to any other kind of blog.

OS and GeoDRM: Only the Half of It


Reading Ed Parson's post about GeoDRM this morning, I imagine him holding a Sony-esque geo-rootkit CD and pondering the implications of its distribution. He writes:

This raises a more fundamental question in my mind, are such protective technologies really worth the effort, sure they reduce the perceived risk of data leakage in the mind of the data owner, but as DVD Jon has proved such systems can nearly always be broken. We don't currently protect data in this way, and I would suggest continuing not to and relying on other legal means may be the best route forward.

The other fundamental question to ask is whether data providers can risk turning away innovators that don't appreciate being treated like criminals.


Re: OS and GeoDRM: Only the Half of It

Author: Ed Parsons

Sean, No root kits here I promise, you are right the key point here is around trust and the traditional IP owners view of risk. It is difficult for traditional publishers of information to move into the post Google world, without feeling very insecure. We need always to balance the rights of owners of information with those who want to exploit it, and to allow the innovation as you point out needs the current "restrictions" to be reduced - I have no argument with that .. it is just going to take some time ed

Re: OS and GeoDRM: Only the Half of It

Author: Sean

Ed, thanks for being a good sport about my dramatization. The world is changing quickly, but one constant is that vendors who trust their users will be appreciated and rewarded. I hope that other CTOs are listening to you about this.

Plone Sprint Summary

So, what did we accomplish? In no particular order:

  • Build scripts for PCL and deprecation of older setup scripts. Sally, Jen, Lexi, Josh, and Chris did this dirty work.

  • Improvements to the PrimaGIS demo. Josh Livni has the Midas Touch.

  • Con merged code from OpenApp's ongoing project -- the most advanced Zope3 and GIS application in the world -- back into the ZCO and PrimaGIS trunks.

  • A working quadtree index for Plone (or Zope3) content with doctests. Shaun Walbridge did most of the typing while I tried to explain the Zope3 adapter pattern. He also came up with a simply brilliant interface. To make spatial queries against a container of objects we just adapt the container to ISpatialIndex. Once you try it you'll agree it has the right feel.

  • Myroslav had great ideas for common geospatial interfaces and we have a roadmap for a new interface package that will help our products interoperate.

  • Kai has the PCL, ZCO, and PrimaGIS trunks working with the Plone 3.0 branch that should be released in March 2007. He also improved the way our renderer looks up cartographic styles, and the demo application is now blazing fast. In theory, our map renderer -- based objects in memory -- should be able to out perform a stateless MapServer CGI that reads its configuration from disk. I think we're finally there.

I've got several more entries about the conference to write, but don't worry: I'll be back to GeoDRM bashing and REST advocacy in due time.


Re: Plone Sprint Summary

Author: Joel

Thanks to everyone involved in helping this excellent project leap forward!