For those of us working in development and humanitarian work is virtually impossible to get sufficient high quality information and data to help us do our job better. Often the best sources of data are hidden away behind officials and applications that rarely reveal all. Of course such professionals have good reason to avoid scattering data far and wide, anyone seeking the perfect presentations of high level data should check out The Gap Minder by Hans Rosling to be covered in future blogs.
Census data is often one of the richest sources, collected by national statistical institutions it is often available in unadulterated form… that is unadulterated by politicians. Thankfully statisticians being rather geeky are obsessed with the purity of the information they collect and share, in a handful of countries the politicians don’t even get involved in publishing the data so have no influence over it whatsoever… top marks to Norway.
Well opensource colleagues have come to our rescue again see this article by the developer, more can be found at gCensus a mashup of Google Earth and Census data (at this moment only US data). Informaiton Aesthetics brings this to us in full technicolour,
… a powerful web-based mapping & visualization tool based on Google Maps, capable of displaying all sorts of geographic data. gCensus is an effort to make geographic data freely and easily accessible to the public, without the need for expensive GIS software packages. users can freely pan, rotate, & zoom into & out of maps, change the ground angle or alter the transparency of different areas to satellite imagery.
Of course we should not be unfair national statistical offices do make data readily available and often widely publish it, sadly government bodies are rarely up on the latest web technology and for many reasons they may not wish to freely distribute the digital data. But wouldn’t it be marvellous if all census data was published in this manner, I am of course hoping the opensource community worldwide will come to our rescue and provide modules that national statistics offices can adopt, publish their data on the web in readily manipulative form, yet retain appropriate control of the source data also. Experience in the field suggest that this is not such a fantastic idea.
This simple yet fascinating graphic published on Point by Fascinating Point implies tackling terrorism with brute force and young soldiers (with all their weaknesses) may be accelerating the very cause celebre it seeks to quash. May not be a surprise but evidence is worth a thousand thoughts and statements.
Do you work with global information? have you ever wished you could present it in 3D on a world map or globe? Maybe I’m alone.. either way Information Aesthetics identifies a new application by 3DLiveStats that allows the visualisation of any data on a 3D globe. Of course I am thinking of wealth quintiles, infant mortality or other development related data..
an impressive & interactive 3D globe that displays information about the world in the browser, showing user-chosen geographical data attributes, varying from economical, population & financial indicators to degrees of pollution & corruption. the Earth can be rotated & inspected & displays can be changed to see information in the most appropriate form.
Such information can be displayed onto walls, used on websites a poweful advocacy tool indeed!
To search for an exact word or phrase use “word or phrase” …. “GlobalNomad101″
To exclude a specific word, prefix with -, for example …. “Global Nomad101″ -Microsoft
Place a hyphen for an exact phrase match …. global-nomad101 .or. once-upon-a-time
Of course Google Search helpfully conducts its own spell check on words clearly spelt incorrectly, but if that is exactly what you are looking for prefix with + to avoid spelling correction errors …. +gryme
Very helpfully Google does its best with any specific number, so search for specific flight numbers, model numbers of hardware, you maybe surprised by what you find.
Are you looking for conversions? imperial to metric or currencies, just type it in …. 56 pints in litres .or. 152 dollars in euros
Can’t find the definition of a word in your dictionary, use …. define:
Apply the same approach to a phrase and it provides one with links to definitions and near alternatives …. define: once upon a time
If you are looking for subject matter in a particular filetype, just request exactly what you need, though it won’t work with music (que pena!) …. global nomads filetype:ppt
It appears one of the secrets to really getting the most out of Google is not to ask questions! apparently we need to think like an intelligent webmaster who is classifying information. “mind the gap” or “fill in the blank feature” technique is a good way to work with this, write a statement and put * where the missing number would be …. Mount Kilimanjaro is * meters .or. Population of Brazil is *
The same approach works well for a search by using a number range …. DVD players $100 … $200
Probably one of the least known and most handy tips is to search a site or domain for specific information. This will work on both high level domains such as .eu .gov .co.uk .uk .fr .com as well as specific websites.
To search for information on NGO’s on British University sites …. site:ac.uk NGO
or specifically on London School of Economics website …. site:lse.ac.uk NGO
I hope you find these handy, keep Googling!
Like so many Wais “found room” at the Mustafa as I arrived in Kabul. Initially I had a luxury room with terrifying read velvet drapes, huge ornate wooden chairs and cushions to match, soon after moved to the standard glass walled (& whitewashed) cubicle. Dehydrated I had collapsed, and left a blood trail from the bathroom to my room as Wais manhandled me over the twenty feet!
The ultimate loveable rogue, Wais helped people through their first nights in Kabul, provided a macabre jigsaw of human flotsam then ensured that BBQ’s, bar sessions and assorted shared experiences wove them together… His genuine concern and care for people seemed a juxtaposition to the guns, uncomfortable rooms and temporary stays, but you had to be there, it made sense.
It is a shock to think of Kabul without Wais and it is difficult to believe he died in his sleep on night of 26th December after knocking his head badly in a shower?, he would love the suspicion that lingers. We all have a mix of printable and censored stories to relay, no doubt many are posted at Kabul Guide. His partial/ occasional paralysis purportedly from a poisoning attempt brought us close together, though he never imported a Concept II or took up the excercise routine we discussed.
The phrase “larger than life” fits him to a tee, always engaging at a personal level as he balanced pressures of Afghan family fealty with his own abundance of ideas and thirst for life, Kabul has lost another re-founding son.
We should take away a determination to live to the full, push to the limit, care for each other and above all despite the frustrations and hell it puts one through, continue to nuture forward Afghanistan despite itself.
I miss you Wais!
It seems that podcasting has come of age far sooner than one might imagine… when the British government adopt practice it is common, when the Royal family adopts a practice it is positively Byzantine!
The traditional “Queen’s Christmas Speech” that is the British Queen Elizabeth II of Windsor is available as a podcast from Westminster Digital, along side her 80th Birthday speech, RSS feeds of course available!
Why is this of interest, well I guess its not, except that when new format media become adopted so soon after their release into the broader market (this speech is of course always broadcast by the BBC on Christmas day), it is a sign of either a fad bubble, or that as in the case of mere podcasting, a technology that genuinely meets the needs of a significant market audience…
Feliz Ano Novo, I hereby give the Global Nomad101 official seal of approval on 2007 year of the podcast!