New Feature: GeoMP3 of the Week

Filed under: Geotagging — geoLibro @ 10:44 pm

Let’s try this for a while: since I’m doing this anyway by geotagging my iTunes library, every Friday I’ll post for download an mp* file (mp3, mp4, etc.) of some song that happens to have some implicit geospatial reference and, presumably, is somehow colored by its geospatial…ness. Accompanying this file will be a kml that will take you to that location, if you’re so inclined. Some parameters:

  • I don’t really want to pay for WordPress space, so I’ll be taking each one down ~2 weeks after they’re posted.
  • I will resist the urge to make every week a Tom Waits week. (First week doesn’t count).
  • I may or may not add a little gloss to each entry about the song’s geography.
  • I will tend to stick to bootlegs, torrented live shows, rarities, etc. (First week doesn’t count).

Good? So let’s get on with it. The first week is a double, featuring two versions of Tom Waits’ classic "Johnsburg, Illinois." This isn’t Waits’ best song ever ("Make it Rain" from Real Gone is, of course), but it’s a remarkably well-built, fundamental romance, referencing and aggrandizing (by proxy, no doubt) the town in which his wife, Kathleen Brennan, grew up. According to Waits (according to Pieter Hartmans’s at least) in a 1983 interview, Brennan was raised "up by the Ching-a-Lings" on a farm that was situated, you guessed it, "outside McHenry" near the Wisconsin border. I would be interested in hearing from anybody who has any insight as to where the Ching-a-Lings tended to be, presuming they were in Johnsburg/McHenry at all.

Johnsburg, Illinois (from Swordfishtrombones in 1983)

Johnsburg, Illinois (from Big Time in 1988)

kml (or just a GMaps lookup)



GeoTagging iTunes tracks

Filed under: Geotagging — geoLibro @ 4:27 pm

…sort of. I thought maybe there was a way to do this with ID3 tags — and perhaps there is — but I didn’t feel like reading about ID3 tags. Instead, I’ve got a solution worked out that is ugly, inelegent and largely Frankensteinian but is also simple and fast. Here’s how it works:

With Google Earth open and an iTunes track playing, I [use QuickSilver to] call up an AppleScript .app with the following code in it.


This will all be pretty obvious and obviously uses the Google Earth AppleScript support that Craig Stanton has put to work so well with GeoTagger and that was possibly first mentioned at OgleEarth. This shows up in the form of the GetViewInfo call, which pulls in coordinate pairs that later get dropped into a string that gets written to an existing kml file.

The peculiar part is perhaps the call to a perl script (just after the opening of the Terminal tell) that deletes the “/Document” and “/kml” closing tags at the bottom of the .kml file that were written by the previous tagging procedure.


So when this application runs, it takes the artist, album, track name, and track file path from the current iTunes track, the current Google Earth coordinates, and writes it all into that kml file. Obviously, if you haven’t manually positioned your Earth over the place you want to ascribe to your music file, you’re going to tag it with some random place on earth.

But why?
I guess because in part I spend a lot more time with music than with photos and while there is a lot less implicit geography in music files than in photos, I still like the idea of placing the music in its proper geospace. You could argue this, of course: every song had to be recorded somewhere, I am choosing not to tag based on the location of the recording. It just says a lot less about the song than do the locations mentioned, alluded to, described, or otherwise present in the text. This works out especially well for artists that tend to use a lot of geography in their songs. Tom Waits, The Kinks, Johnny Cash, even Leonard Cohen (though his are usually not so obvious within the songs themselves).

Anyway, it is painfully rudimentary, for sure; and if anyone wants to improve on it and make a legitimate software, let me know when it’s done. My guess is that a lazy ape could do better. My hope would be that this ape would add some contextualizing information (a dot in the middle of Kansas refers to all of Kansas for Casiotone for the Painfully Alone’s “Jeanne, if You’re Ever in Portland” or a very specific lat/long? Same goes for Portland in that same song.) A little jacket art wouldn’t hurt, either.



MetaCarta is Where It’s At

Filed under: Alternative GIS, Data Processing and Conversion, Geotagging — geoLibro @ 4:06 am

MetaCarta’s GeoTagger apparently does excellent, impressive, cool work on unstructured documents. The result of its awesomeness is geotagged xml with which one can do whatever one pleases. Make sense? I spoke to a sales rep from MetaCarta at the Indianapolis “What’s New with ArcGIS 9.2” seminar about GeoTagger and grilled him about what could be done. Not too many specifics from that, but then I got a call from the great MetaCarta themselves since I expressed interest. Unless they’re mean-spirited liars, GeoTagger does do natural language processing and does put out very useful xml and does handle versioned data and does include user-specified structured data (think MySQL tables) and does…do more still.

But today’s post is a leech off of Fantom Planet’s post about another slick product built on top of GeoTagger. It’s PageMapper, and you can think of it as a more invasive, more thorough GeoTagThings. Sounds like it’s a little lab-y still, but have you built such a system?


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.”


MetaCarta’s GTS

We first saw MetaCarta’s Geographic Text Search back in 2005. There must be some new functionality or something (document density map, maybe?), because the All Points Blog and others are covering it again. I’m jealous of MetaCarta’s effort more than its existence. It’s the sort of business that a library-based GIS might attend to (especially as more and more library faculty are ushered toward doing interdisciplinary research [with, say, computer scientists]) and it is the sort of project I would really like to develop as a module or other functional component of Purdue’s Institutional Repository project, wherein GIS isn’t analytical but rather an information application almost in and of itself. MetaCarta is using a map interface for non-map, non-GIS document clusters and we should all be interested (but librarians especially) in how these documents are ingested and indexed. If they can do automated geographic indexing of 10,000 documents per day, why don’t more libraries have map interfaces or at least some other geographic utility for locating materials?


Filed under: Geotagging — geoLibro @ 7:19 pm

Am I slow? I just heard about, and it appears to be yet another boon to those interested in writing their web content to geospace. I guess we could call it geobookmarking, where we (users) organize our world of web content by how it’s organized across the planet. The concept isn’t wild here, but I’ve played with this tool for about ten minutes (What? I get excited.) and it is very easy to tag your web content. You save a bookmarklet to (probably) your bookmark bar and whenever you come across a web page that you want to tie to a place, you just click that bookmarklet. You’re then taken to the geotagthings site, where you verify the location, add an optional note, then complete the tagging process and return to the original website. It uses the Yahoo! Maps API and I got it to work in Safari and Camino so far but OmniWeb choked on the login and Opera wouldn’t run the geocoding process (but did allow me to navigate manually to the location).

But then your tagged sites are available as a number of xml-based feeds, including kml. Which means your Google Earth can load it as a network link. Here’s mine. (Note, this won’t download a kml or kmz. I think you need to add this network link manually).

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