Leaflet map

The task of putting some of this information on the map is rather daunting, once you actually start wading through a pile of leaflets looking for locations, places, times, contacts details, Web addresses. But I think it can be decentralised, and the folk who make the leaflets, maps and guides for a city have a lot to gain from making their content more machine-accessible and freely share-able. Well, most of them do.





PortCities Bristol Watershed Cinema CITIZINE Colston Hall Decode Bristol International Twinnings Association Bristol Evening Post Venue Days Out Guide 2005 Southbank-Bristol Arts Trail Clifton Suspension Bridge - Free Guided Tours ARAG newsletter - news from the Somali community activePosters - "Connecting pringed matter to a world of on-line content" Depict! "Can you do it in 90 seconds?" Guided Walks of Bristol The Cube Microplex Creative Bristol St Werburghs Community Centre The Bristol China Partnership Relay audio toor "Your gude to council services and city news... and your summer fun events calendar" Ian McNabb plays the Prom, Sat 10th Sept 2005 Southbank Bristol Walkshops - walking workshops with your digital camera At-Bristol Crossing Continents - Stories of migration and the search for a better life (exhibition at the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum) Empire and us, at the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum Fresh Five - Young People's Film Festival, at the Watershed Bristol Visitor - "The Bristol Tour with live guides and headphones" The Prom (Nov 2004 listings) Bluescreen - open film screenings, at the Cube Microplex Bristol Fairtrade Directory A stroll in the Park - Celebrating 25 years of extraordinary street theatre, Bristol‑based Desperate Men invite you to accompany them on a free promenade and voyage of discovery. Venue Magazine Part-time and Short Courses - Lifelong Learning for the General Public Wessex Trains' pocket guide, available from Uni Bristol for students Bristol University International Affairs Society see Indymedia - 'In light of recent events at the Easton Community Centre we, some of the former staff at the Centre, feel it is important to express our incredible sadness and anger regarding the decision to close the Centre without any community-wide consultation.' Haunted and Hidden Bristol Walking Tour 20p books and the Decorated World Streetmap.co.uk Ordnance Survey - Britain's national mapping agency Bristol c/o Google Maps

20p books and the Decorated World

Anmesty bookshopThe Bristol Amnesty International Group has a bookshop on Gloucester Road. I walk past it and can’t help but beachcomb through the 20p shelf they have in the street, despite the dangerous state of my overloaded bookshelves.

From yesterday’s semi-random purchase, Ernest Bevin – Unskilled Labourer and World Statesman, by Mark Stephens:

There were a number of Socialists who hoped that any serious threat of war would inspire an international general strike. At least they had high hopes that the working people of Britain and Germany would join hands in fraternal unity and refuse to take up arms.

Amongst those who thought this way was Ernest Bevin. Over the weekend while the London Socialists were holding a massive anti-war rally in Trafalgar Square, Bevin was on a soapbox on the Bristol Downs roundly condemning militarism and urging all working people to refuse to do their government’s bidding in the event of war.

[Chapter 3 - First World War]

I didn’t know that. If I hadn’t randomly picked up this book, put 20p through the shop’s letterbox, and idly flipped to page 28, I still wouldn’t know it. We can do better than that.

bristol downs I’ve been to the Bristol Downs hundreds, maybe thousands of times since I moved to Bristol in 1991. There are Web pages about Bevin (Wikipedia), and about the Downs. There are computer markup languages for geography (GML), for data syndication (RSS/Atom), and experiments in combining those two worlds via the Semantic Web. The (very nice) Mobile Bristol Riot! “voice play” shows something of what can be achieved with geo-tagged multimedia content. The big challenge is to combine such approaches, so this world-decorating content can be made by the masses, for the masses, accessible through open standards and protocols. Once that’s done, then we’ll have the problem of figuring out whose decorations to believe. And that’s a healthy kind of a problem to have.

I’ve said before that we need technology to engineer more coincidences in the world:

FOAF was designed as technology to encourage coincidence. You’re walking past a pub… you go to a conference… you’re standing at the barracades… or sitting in an interview… and the last thing you’d expect… a friend of a friend. Everything’s connected. Who’d have thought it?

The idea that it might be within our power to make this world a more co-incidental place… sounds at first, like magic. But really it isn’t. It’s just engineering. In the world of everyday information, people and places are the hubs around which everything else spins. When we can describe locations and people to our poor, simpleminded computers, and tell them about the things people have made and done, then those same machines are surely capable of reminding us when the moment’s right.

Another great example of local data for local people, of the kind of data that we ought to be able to “put on the map” with just a little bit more markup technology, is the Relay project, an audio walking tour of Stokes Croft here in Bristol. I took the liberty of making a version of their page that uses a clientside HTML imagemap to associate their soundclips with areas on the map they provide. How many more tags would we need to add to go from that to geo-tagging the media files themselves? HTML imagemap technology is showing it’s age, but W3C’s more recent work on vector graphics for the Web, SVG has been designed with such issues in mind.

Here’s a concrete goal. Imagine you’re writing a page in Wikipedia in a few year’s time. You’re adding an entry describing Nye Bevin’s soapbox speech on the Bristol Downs prior to the first World War. Imagine you want your description to be accessible to mapping-based sites, digital city sites, location-based mobile phone services, and local historians. What should Wikipedia offer to make your life easier? Presumably some kind of scrolly-clicky map thingumie. And how should it share that data with other sites around the Web, so that the annotation can show up in a thousand relevant Web sites, 3D globe viewers, mobile phones and local guides… rather than be buried inside a 20p book at a charity store? That last little bit is the problem I’m obsessessing on lately. How hard can it be?

Notes from Bristol Amnesty International meeting

Jan 15 AI Bristol: Martin, Nancy, Margaret

Notes taken at the January 15th 2004 Bristol Amnesty International (AI) meeting. There were two guest speakers on the topic of “Israel, Palestine and Amnesty’s new mandate“: Martin Knight, AIUK Co-ordinator for Israel, the Occupied Territories and the Palestine Authority, and Nancy Rollason of Bristol Palestine Soldidarity Movement,

Note: this article was written a week afterwards based on my semi-legible handwritten notes. It likely containing errors and omissions (some but not all flagged with ‘@’ signs). This version (updated 18 March 2004) includes some edits and clarifications from Martin. The text that follows reports as closely as possible what I heard from Martin and Nancy. Also note that I’ve avoided prefixing each sentence with qualifiers such as “Martin reported that…”, since the article itself sets that context. Where my notes seem to capture a reasonably verbatim account of what was said, I’ve put the text in quotes; please bear in mind that I probably didn’t get it word-perfect. I’ve added a few links to supplementary materials that I found online. Except for the AI and ISM sites, these links weren’t provided by the speakers.
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