Mapping today is like blogging

In trying to get a handle on what mapping is today, perhaps the best analogy is to that of blogging:

1. Blogging provides an outlet for knowledge and opinion beyond the MSM.
Online mapping, the geospatial web and outlets like Google Earth provide an outlet for mapping beyond the big map publishers or the state

2. The MSM largely controlled informed opinion and conversation, and were structurally dominated by corporations and were small c conservative, if not big c Conservative
Mapping has historically existed largely to serve the state and the military

3. Blogging invests power in the hands of the everyday citizen, outside the control of academia or the state
Mapping today is largely practiced by the everyday mapper, beyond the reach of cartography textbooks or college classes

4. Blogging does have earlier scattershot pre-computer examples, such as diary and jounral keeping in the nineteenth century
There were earlier independent pre- or non-computer producers and inventors of maps such as Buckminster Fuller, Arno Peters, Bill Bunge

The bottom line then is that like blogging, mapping was controlled by certain vested interests, but is now available to millions with very few entry barriers.

Update: I forgot to add one of my main points:

5. Blogging enables and promotes discussion of local issues, especially in political blogs
Today's mapping likewise allows people to focus on local issues, and not be dictated to by national or government mapping efforts.


Personalized stamps / stamps as maps

Apparently the latest craze is personalized stamps. You take a digital picture and turn it into a real, working stamp (price increase included).

I saw this on the Sprintpcs website, my cell phone provider.

So I thought: why not have a map in the stamp of the destination? Or, a lat-long at least that was machine readable.

The late Peter Gould, geography professor at Penn State would be laughing right now. During the 1980s he carried out a little test. He got people to send put postcards in envelopes and then send these off to their friends and family overseas. Then all these people around the world would write an address as a lat-long on the postcard! The recipient was Waldo Tobler, his colleague at UCSB.

The idea was to see if any were delivered. Here is Gould's own card:

Neat, huh?

Many of them apparently did make it to Tobler.

Setting up a home wifi network

Over the Christmas break I came across a great offer to buy a CompUSA wireless router for 3 bucks (after rebate, naturally).

It was relatively easy to set up. But I did have to learn some things about networking and wireless that I didn't know.

Here at Ubik HQ we already have DSL service from Bellsouth as well as a wireless enabled laptop (Dell Latitude D600). After plugging in the router (54Mbps, handles 801.11g, a better standard apparently than the 801.11b) we tried to follow the manual, but it appeared to have been translated by a non-English speaker, and was pretty rudimentary anyway. So we ploughed ahead with the settings anyway :)

You need to decide on a network name (aka SSID). Ours is 'ubiknet' of course.
You also should protect your access, and it was with this that we had the most trouble. We chose WEP, which is apparently better than nothing but not great. You also have to choose a key or password. We had two choices: 64-bit or 128-bit. Funnily enough these require passwords that are exactly 5 or 13 letters long!

Next step is to do better than WEP, but am not sure how to do that. Manual no help! I'm not so concerned about neighbors leeching my internet as encrypting my signals. What, me worry? :)