aku-aku: v.. To move a tall, flat bottomed object (such as a bookshelf) by swiveling it alternatively on its corners in a "walking" fashion. [After the book by Thor Heyerdahl theorising the statues of Easter Island were moved in this fashion.] source: LangMaker.com. Aku Aku also has another meaning to the islanders: a spiritual guide.
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Collaborative Lat/Lon Database & Feb 15 protest pics from around the world.
Posted by dav at 2003 February 20 03:37 PM
File under: Events


Ben, the lead visionary of the blogosphere project emailed me a link to a collection of
180 pictures for over 125 February 15 2003 Protests. This looked like a good use for the globe applet I've been working on for the blogosphere project, so I wrote some perl code to scrape the data from that page, combine it with the world cities data I've been using and encode it as an xml file suitable for feeding into the globe applet. The results are here: protests around the world

It was fairly easy to do, and it successfully scraped 157 of the 180 photos (although a few are in the wrong locations).

This got me thinking about a free simple and useful sub-project service that we should attempt to provide at blogosphere: run a service via XML-RPC and plain CGI that takes a request string containing location info and returns a dataset of the probable lat/lon pair ranked in order of likelihood. Andy has also suggested it should take a variety of inputs (an RSS feed, a URL, etc).

The back end engine would be open source of course, and we could concentrate all of the AI-like parsing logic in one place. It would know (or learn over time) how to handle things like San Jose vs San Jose, CA vs San Jose, CR vs San Jose, CostRica vs S.J., Costa Rica vs San Jose, California vs USA-San Jose-CA ...etc

Make the service free to use for all non-commercial usage. Let people enter in lat/lon pairs and location attributes. Another subsytem could automate sanity checking the user-supplied data and use some sort of democratic/reputation system so that the system is self policing.

Seems like it would be a great service to have. Right up there with online dictionaries, translation services and time servers. Maybe it already exists?

Comments:

I have been thinking along the same lines. I recently found a site which has 1000s of locations within many countries already named along with the ICBM coordinates in CSV format and guess who made it? A branch of the US military! You can download it but unfortunately I can't find it right now!! It may be linked to from here:

http://garnet.acns.fsu.edu/~phensel/intldata.html#geog

Which is where I found location search site:
http://www.getty.edu/research/tools/vocabulary/tgn/index.html

Posted by: Stuart Woodward on February 28, 2003 01:11 AM

The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), developed by the USGS in cooperation with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN), contains information about almost 2 million physical and cultural geographic features in the United States.

Found it:

http://geonames.usgs.gov/

The database is the official repository of foreign place-name decisions approved by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (US BGN). Approximately 20,000 of the database's features are updated monthly.
http://164.214.2.59/gns/html/

Names Files of Selected Countries:
http://164.214.2.59/gns/html/cntry_files.html

Posted by: Stuart Woodward on February 28, 2003 01:18 AM

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