Monday, March 3, 2008

Mapping Science Itself

This is a Google Tech Talk called Scholarly Data, Network Science, and (Google) Maps. The creative use of maps in this presentation is impressive, but it is interesting to see that the vast majority of the time and effort to produce them consisted solely of data cleanup. This kind of data cleanup - specifically the kind that requires some expertise in the subject (in this case, the metadata associated with huge datasets of high variability), some technical skill to automate processes when you can, and recognizing when it is prohibitive to do so - is likely to be steady, if sometimes boring, work for as long as such data is in demand. I would be curious how much of it they have considered handing off to the crowd (though scholarly work may not really lend itself to the concept as well as, say, images do via something like Google's Image Labeler) Another interesting thing regarding this presentation is the composition of the team responsible for the maps. Geography is always billed as a highly interdisciplinary field and this is a perfect example (though you will notice an abundance of mathematicians, graphic designers/cartographers, and some computer science folks). These guys sell their maps here. All of the money goes to getting such maps into schools where they can do some real good.

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