geoLibro

2006.October.8

MetaCarta Must be Where It’s At

Filed under: Alternative GIS, Geotagging, GISUI (GIS User Interfaces) — geoLibro @ 3:53 pm

So the most innovative GIS company extant today really is MetaCarta. Their GTS (Geographic Text Search) makes me very jealous and rue the day I didn’t somehow learn how to develop computer applications and run a GIS company and then think to combine both of them. It’s built on what they call a Geographic Reference Engine, which uses natural language processing to identify geographic references and their contexts within existing text documents. The output is legible from within Google Earth and ArcMap, but my guess is that it could be made to be read by almost anything that’s hip these days.

This is a big deal, if not in practice (I don’t know anybody who has purchased and/or used their GTS), then certainly as a proof-of-implementation that should be of interest to those institutions who are collecting massive amounts of text content electronically and then developing interfaces and other connectors. Say, like, Purdue University Libraries’ Distributed Institutional Repository.

MetaCarta also made GeoTagger, which is essentially a geocoder of existing text collections that outputs xml for use in other contexts.

Anyway, on to the buried lead:
FantomPlanet notes that MetaCarta now has posted an online georeferencing utility that allows anybody with an electronic, unreferenced map document to reference it to its proper place on earth using a series of user-selected control points. There are copyright considerations here, of course (uploading anything means anybody can use it), but at its simplest it’s further proof that MetaCarta gets what’s happening: geospatial information is infiltrating. It’s becoming a common point of access, a common perspective from which we access our documents of any kind. So we’re not imagining, we’re seeing our world of information become mapped, and become accessible by using those maps as interfaces. Not even analysis, which seems like the hangup for so long. That is, GIS for so long was a tool for analysis and data visualization. Now it’s a user interface as well, and librarians who have an interest in normalizing and logicalizing (uh, “to make logical”?) access to information should be pleased. I am, if you take “pleased” to mean “jealous.”

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