为什么地图仍然是一个壁龛?

前几天看到有在写“为什么地图仍然是一个壁龛”,就是下面这篇文章,我觉得挺靠谱的,所以就将我能理解的部分给翻译出来了。

Why maps are still a niche

Two things crossed my mind. The first issue is that online maps are still not easy to share. Not to mention the challenge of creating and publishing them! All in all, there is not enough good content in shareable format to go around. Google is trying hard but despite, it is not easy and straightforward for anybody to use MyMaps and/or Fusion Tables to create informative maps for sharing. It is also not easy to find user created content, either on MyMaps or via filetype:kml search on Google. Indeed, I am struggling to find content for my reference map – with a few exceptions, like for example USGS earthquakes, there is virtually nothing immediately useable! Flood affected areas in NSW – zero. Fires in Israel – one… You get the picture.

有两件事一直在我脑海中徘徊,第一件是:在线地图的分享仍然不容易。先不提创作和发布地图的挑战性。最基本的是,现在还没有够多的好内容可以用来分享。Google正在努力,但是收效甚微。对于任何人来说,使用MyMaps[1]和Fusion Tables[2]来创建有信息量的地图,用于分享,都是一件困难的事情。同样,想要找到用户创建内容,不管是在MyMaps中还是通过filetype:kml在Google中搜索,都是困难的事情。

True, there are some nice examples of map creation services but they are not quite yet up to the task – either too clunky for portability (eg. built with Flex requiring a hefty download to run) or can only be viewed on a specific site, or if embedding is allowed, show only a single map at a time. And since there are no communities like YouTube for sharing maps, again with exception of a few tiny by web standards portals, there are no critical mass to “make maps go viral”…

诚然,也有一些很不错的地图制作服务的例子,但他们不能完全胜任工作-要么太笨重,便携性不好(例如,Flex写的需要下载很多东西才能跑起来);要么就只能在特定的网站上跑,兼容性不好;即使允许嵌入显示,一次只能显示一张地图。 而且,因为没有像YouTube这样的社区用来共享地图,再加上Web标准中的一些微小差错,使得制作地图不能像病毒传染一样大范围传播开来。

The second problem, as I see it, is that the spatial industry participants are looking too much inward rather than reaching out to the broader community. The focus is on selling software, data, services and solutions to fellow professionals and not much effort goes to providing tools for “solving problems and improving lives” of citizens in general. So, beyond a few specific applications, like online street directories or GPS navigation devices, and maybe a few more location aware tools, “doing thing the spatial way” does not have much broader appeal. Majority of people just don’t associate “information” with maps – rather only with text, lists or tables, eventually graphs. An example from the last few days – there are many road closure announcements due to recent flooding but try to find this information presented on a map. Not a chance! Yet without a reference to a map/ street directory/ road atlas, information like “…X road closed between Y junction and Z road” is completely useless for most.

第二件是,就我所看到的,空间产业的从业者更关注内在的、自己的东西,而不是走出去与广泛的社区进行接触。他们关注的是如何销售软件、数据、服务和解决方案给那些专业人员,而没有花费精力去为广大人民群众提供工具,使他们能解决问题和提高生活质量。所以,除了一些特别的应用程序,如在线街道寻路或GPS导航设备,也许还有一些位置感知的工具,用空间思维来处理问题并没有太大的市场。多数人没有将信息和地图关联起来,他们只是在地图上加上了文本、列表和表格,最终只是一个图形而已。

Don’t get me wrong. Google did tremendous job with Google Maps, introducing masses to something otherwise considered a kind of a “black art”. Many valuable and community focused initiatives have been started in the last few years and individual professionals are doing tremendously important job creating, analysing and disseminating spatial information and maps but, as mentioned in the first point above, still much more work needs to be done to make spatial technologies and information widely understood and easy to apply. I hope that my reference map concept can contribute to that objective in some way.

大家不要误解我的意思。Google已经在Google Maps上做了大量的工作,介绍了某些内容的许多方面,否则大家会认为它只是一种巫术。过去几年里,已经出现了一些有价值的社区倡议,一些专业人士也做了许多重要的工作:创建、分析和传播空间信息和地图。但正如第一点所说的,想要使空间技术和信息被广泛的理解和易于使用,仍有大量的工作需要去完成。

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[1]My Maps似乎没有专门的网址入口,一般打开http://maps.google.com/maps,点击左边的“我的地图”,登录Google帐号后就能使用。对我来说,这是比较常用的服务,一般我在网上标注好我想去的地方,然后在Android上导航就非常方便了。另外,还可以用于协作分享,例如这些:

[2]Fusion Tables(http://tables.googlelabs.com)是一个可视化的工具,地图是一种数据可视化的手段。看一个维基解密的例子,关于阿富汗战争的(http://www.google.com/fusiontables/DataSource?dsrcid=224453),打开后点击Visualize中的Map。

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就像作者说的,他的困扰在两个问题:

  • 地图分享的问题,这其中又有很多问题:首先,你拿不出东西分享,或者说你有东西也拿不出手吧。其次你没有途径分享,简单说没有一个网站。像视频分享有YouTube,图片分享有Flickr,地图?
  • 空间产业的从业者,或者说就是我们,目光短浅,或者说鼠目寸光吧。仅仅关注的是眼前的内部利益,而忘了为广大人民群众服务。

但是,虽然困难重重,但已经有人意识到问题和开始行动了。

比如:

  • ArcGIS.com 上线,它的愿景就是一个在线的地图分享、协作平台和社区。
  • Microsoft开始协助OpenStreetMap发展,OSM今后能使用Bing Maps作为地图进行数字化。
  • 开源界的推动,例如GeoNode这样的项目,可以通过这个Slide来了解:

就我自己来说,地图和GIS一直是一个比较纠结的问题。有几个问题,地图和GIS是一回事吗?如果是的话,那还需要地图做什么。如果不是的话,那区别在哪,或者说地图在GIS中扮演什么角色,等等。

目前,我是从这个角度理解的:如果将GIS分成三大块-GeoDatabase、GeoProcessing和GeoVisualization,那么地图只是GeoVisualization的一部分,而关于制作地图又是一门高深的学问-Cartography。下面这个Silde,说的就是地图在GIS中扮演的角色,挺不错的:

The Role of Maps in GIS
View more presentations from JimBarry.

总之,我觉得,不能整天吹牛瞎忽悠,该干什么的干什么的去,得拿点干货出来。

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