Monday, December 28, 2009

Paleogeographers, Neogeographers, Psychogeographers, taggers and Storytellers

I have been thinking and working with maps and location and GPS units for a long time now. I coined a phrase, Quantitative Psychogeography, which has not yet caught on, co-wrote two books, _Mapping Hacks_ and _Google Maps Hacks_, preached to the choir and to the unconverted, and I have been tracking and geolocating many of my travels and photos and gigapans for years.

And I have been frustrated. And I finally realized why: I just want story telling and life logging tools. Paleo and Neo geographers have created amazing tools. I've been part of some of that energy. And it is great fun, and it is powerful, and it matters.

The engineer in me likes these tools. I like PostGIS, I like GDAL, I like Google Maps and My Maps and I am even making my grudging peace with KML. But none of these tools really hits the story teller in me. They don't hit the artist, the life logger.

And none of them is appropriate for managing a 'personal geo-repository.'

For a long time I just collected the data, and either whined, or offered constructive criticism, when the subject came up. And I gave hope that tomorrow's software would be able to make sense of yesterday's data. But then in Vienna I decided that I could no longer deal with a fundamentally broken model of managing waypoints.

Too much, all of it in fact, depended on my remembering wayoint names - key words - and too little of the work was being done where it should be done - by the computer.

I say it was a decision, but there was jet lag and anxiety to blame as well. There was waking up at 3 in the morning and not being able to sleep again, worrying that I was not doing enough here to justify the trip. To justify the trust placed in me by my boss, and by my self, the trust that I would do something great.

So I figured out my waypoint repository challenge. At least well enough for now. See 'Annotating Waypoints, partially solved' And as you read that remember that I am trying for a system which can operate comletely offline, on a minimal computer, with minimal software dependencies, and maximum flexibility. And I don't care if there is a bit of command line involved if that preserves flexibility and if it so importantly doesn't hide anything from me.

Storing points in GPX format, and importing them from the GPS with GPS Babel seems the best option. I can imort them into Google Earth (or better, convert them to KML using GPS Babel, and then import the KML into Google Earth) for viewing, but basica annotation and management seems to need to be kept in a text file format, and in a text file format which won't suddenly be magically and terribly reformated in a way that causes me to lose timestamp information for the individual points (and yes, KML, I continue to be confused about how you manage time, and why those choices were made :-(

I feel like I am refining my keyboard shortcuts for using a TRS100 laptop computer. I know KML is how everything is done, but damnit, KML and Google Earth hide more of my story than they reveal.

OTOH, Google Won, right? Everybody loves Google Earth, I love big junks of it, but I don't trust it to not just accidentally cause me to lose that which I find most important.

1 comment:

  1. is a reliable and free software program that can help users convert gpx to kml files and vice versa, when in need. There's no need to install it, just upload files and see the conversion.