Ups and downs at WhereCamp

In meetings on March 13, 2010 at 10:54 am

The first day started slowly for me. By lunch time doubts had crept in about the event. But the post-lunch sessions were excellent, and more than made up for a slow start.

With six tracks it was hard to know where to go. So, I stayed put in the main room and had the sunrise/sunset SVG rendition working by lunchtime. Lunch itself was healthy – a pleasant change from the norm at geek events. The only ting I remember about teh morning session was Gary Gale’s “it is essential to be able to lie about your location” – which should ring true for all of us (clandestine activities or not).

Post lunch, in the main hall where there was a Q&A session on Open Street Map. It uses wiki technology with extensions – an approach which reinforces my feelings about wikis being a base infrastructure for data collection. The team showed some visualizations from the Open Street Map data collections and highlighted “shards of wrong” where errors are made glaringly obvious by presenting them visually. It was apparent that the value of visualizations may be in finding anomalies, rather than in confirming expectations.

Next up was a session of “info porn” – gorgeous visualizations of transport data. Hal Bertram of ITO showed a series of time-lapse animations of traffic data. At the kick-off we had been shown an animation demonstrating how collaborative mapping initiatives have grown exponentially. But this was more interesting, because of the deductions that could be made from watching the data move. While we were still salivating at the high definition animations, Hal finished by saying  “at its best visualization produces stuff that you want to look at, and learn from”.

Open Street Map 2008 Map Edits from Peter Dunn on Vimeo.

After that I found myself learning about lenticular printing . In the discussion Sarah Kate Norman suggested that it might be an idea to use lenticular printing for sign information in different symbols/languages when the Olympics come to London. The fine map print that was shown at the session was produced by a company called Riot Of Colour.

Then tried to get into the YQL session but the small room was heaving. There are many materials available online anyway – so that’s one for self-study.

The final session was a debate (not sure it was intended as such) about privacy. I stayed quiet but thought there was youthful optimism that the problem would fix itself after some high-profile incidents – it hasn’t worked for patents!

On the way home the train hit something – we were delayed by over two hours, but I used the time to hack. So it really was a day of highs and lows. Now to see what today has in store.


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