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Using Google Maps? You May Be Looking at a Home-Made Map

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, April 20 2012

Public Laboratory image of WhereCamp, Stanford University (April 2011) in Google Earth

Google Earth is now using 45 maps from the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, the group announced in an e-mail. The Public Laboratory is a community which develops and applies open-source tools to environmental exploration and investigation. This includes what they call "grassroots mapping" — using relatively low-cost tools like helium balloons and Flip cameras to create satellite imagery independent of big institutions or the government, which made a high-profile appearance along the Gulf Coast after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Public Laboratory archive includes many maps released into the public domain. Google is now incorporating those maps into Google Earth's historic imagery database and into Google Maps.

Google's Lat Long blog notes that several of the images it included from PLOTS had been created with a balloon mapping toolkit "that allows anyone with an inexpensive digital point and shoot camera, and about $100 of other parts (balloon, helium, line, soda bottle, etc.) to take photos of the ground around them."

PLOTS offers a tool called MapKnitter to then align the photos into a georeferenced image that can be used by a program such as Google Earth.

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New Media Sites in Iran Blur Lines Between Citizen Journo, Professional Journo, & Activist

In 2010, Newsweek declared Iran the “birthplace of citizen journalism.” Iranian bloggers were hailed by Westerners as “brave” for their coverage of the aftermath of the disputed 2009 election. A 40-second video of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during an anti-government protest won a prestigious George Polk Award, the first anonymously-produced work to be so honored. And then came the 2013 study “Whither Blogestan,” which sought to explain Iran's shrinking blogosphere. Of nearly 25,000 highly active and connected blogs in 2008 and 2009, only 20 percent were still online in September 2013.

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