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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David Rumsey Map Collection
Posted by dav at 2004 May 15 11:14 PM
File under: Geek

I sometimes dabble in some geo-hacking activities. Late Friday afternoon I was hanging out on the #geo IRC channel with the more serious geonauts when Mike Liebhold suggested those of us in the Bay Area join him for a Long Now seminar at Fort Mason featuring David Rumsey. I'd never heard of Rumsey, but apparently he was some map collector dude.

I headed down and was completely blown away. Rumsey is not just some map collector dude, he's like The Uber Alles Map Collector Dude. Really, I can't even begin to describe it. Not only does he have what must be the largest private historical map collection in the world, he has put together an INCREDIBLE online interface into that map collection on the public Internet: David Rumsey Historical Map Collection.

Not only are there over 10,000 maps in the collection ranging from pocket sized to meters-long japanese scrolls to 8 feet square, all searchable, displayable, and zoomable, but he also provides amazingly sophisticated tools that let you do things like simlutaneously display multiple maps of the same region, auto-resize them to normalize the display and choose whether to view them side by side or overlaying with adjustable transparency. He also has worked with 3D game designers to create 3D version of some of his maps that you can fly through with your web browser. Really, you've just got to see it to believe it. There's a flash tour on the website that will dip your toes into the incredible ocean of cartographical ecstasy he provides (see the sidebar for Feb 6 2004). If you find a map you just adore, you can download it and print it yourself or order a framed version online. The guy has really thought of just about everything. He even claimed to have added stuff to support linking to it from other software programs (an open API). It's seriously amazing. Trust me, you could get lost for the rest of your life clicking through his maps....

The map above is part of one of Ramsey's Morocco maps from 1836. Using his insight java map browser tool I was able to navigate to the town of Essaouira on the Atlantic coast and link that spot on the map (known as Mogodor then) to a photo I had taken of some fellow travellers when I visited there. Now anyone who uses the insight Java Client (as opposed to the insight Browser) and views that map can see my annotated point.

Rumsey is looking forward to a time when maps cease to be merely maps but are actual real time projections generated from data pouring in from satellite photos, various local sensors and the earth's inhabitants. I have no doubt that when that technology becomes practical, David Rumsey will be there to use it.

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