Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Web 3.0 and the 3-D web emerging

Yesterday and today I came across a few very interesting articles that reinforce my ideas about how the web is changing from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 and even to a 3-D web. The entire interface for interacting with computers, operating systems and the web is beginning to change and will likely be much different as time goes on in the future. The "Croquet Consortium" includes some impressive computer interface pioneers who are now developing a free open source software platform and a network operating system to create powerful and highly collaborative multi-user 2-D and 3-D applications and simulations... A Wikipedia page also provides more information about the Croquet Consortium.

Google Earth may be the best example of socially useful geographic 3-D interface that in two years an estimated 250 million people have downloaded. The Google Earth Community is especially vibrant with users contributing all kinds of personal, social and technical information. We (Mountain Visions) have been producing immersive 360 degree panoramas and 3-D digital map fly in projects for a dozen years and immediately recognized the importance of the freely available Google Earth when it appeared two years ago. Now we and many others are in the process of creating kml files to hundreds of locations where they can visit web site panoramas, videos, multimedia sequences and still images.

Another popular 3-D web project is Second Life (7 million registered users) and several other similar projects that let people build Simulated artificial environments. Some big corporations and government agencies are experimenting with this kind of new project. I participate in Second life a little, but I prefer the reality of the environments that Google Earth maps and the projects contributed to the Google Earth Community represents.

One of the articles I read yesterday was titled "Second Earth" and suggests a combination of Google Earth and Second Life and other 3-D projects is a likely scenario soon. The very long and very good "Second Earth" article was written by Wade Roush and published in the July/August issue of the MIT Technology Review. I will include a few quotes from this article here.
"The World Wide Web sill soon be absorbed into the World Wide Sim: an immersive, 3-D visual environment that combines elements of social virtual worlds, such as Second Life and mapping applications such as Google Earth. What happens when the virtual and real worlds collide?"

"For people who haven't spent much time in a 3-D world, of course, it's hard to imagine feeling comfortable in either. But such environments may soon be as unavoidable as the Web itself: according to technology research firm Gartner, current trends suggest that 80 percent of active Internet users and Fortune 500 companies will participate in Second Life or some competing virtual world by the end of 2011. And if you take a few months to explore Second Life, as I have done recently, you may begin to understand why many people have begun to think of it as a true second home--and why 3-D worlds are a better medium for many types of communication than the old 2-D Internet."

Another article today on C/net News.com titled "Looking for life in virtual worlds" notes that IBM, MIT and the Nature Conservancy are working on a 3-D Internet project to compile better visualization applications and better information about important river ecosystems. A link in the article goes to another C/Net News.com article noting that IBM and The Nature Conservancy are working to compile better visualizations applications about important river ecosystems. The second article titled "IBM to crunch numbers for river conservation" contains a statement that "IBM intends to set up software and hardware that will allow conservationists to create what-if scenarios and make more informed decisions..."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Decline of Common Backyard Birds

In Idaho, the west and worldwide the sight and sounds of common backyard birds is becoming less common. Bird watchers, scientists and anyone interested can see overwhelming evidence that this decline is due primarily to the loss of critical natural habit resources such as grass, shrubs, trees and water. Many of the same human development actions that are responsible for the increase of "Greenhouse Gases" also cause this habitat decline.

Recent News reports in the Seattle Times, The Oregonian (Oregonlive.com) and CNN.com have provided articles about a recent National Audubon Society Report that notes some species have lost more than half their populations in the past 40 years.

Video below - Sparr0w & Song- near Boise River.
by Gary Grimm - Mountain Visions

The Audubon web site contains a section called "State of the Birds" where it is stated that,
"Birds are important indicators of the overall health of our environment. Like the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, they send an urgent warning about threats to our water, air, natural resources, climate and more." On another page called "Common Birds in Decline" it is reported that "Since 1967 the average population of the common birds in steepest decline has fallen by 68 percent; some individual species nose-dived as much as 80 percent. All 20 birds on the national Common Birds in Decline list lost at least half their populations in just four decades."

A conclusion provided on the same page is: "The findings point to serious problems with both local habitats and national environmental trends. Only citizen action can make a difference for the birds and the state of our future."

If citizens want to see and hear a variety of birds, and want future generations to have the same opportunity to enjoy the many additional values that birds provide, we all need to be more active in making our views known to our friends, neighbors, communities, businesses and lawmakers. Social Networking concepts on the Internet that I am discussing in this Blog should provide some of these opportunities. If you are in Idaho and interested in being involved in a networking group about this topic please leave a comment or contact me personally.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Google Earth & Maps- Interactive Interfaces to Conservation Geography projects.

During the past two weeks news related to new features and examples of social networking concepts related to Google Earth has been abundant and exciting. I am especially interested in the new open source geoblogging features the Jane Goodale Institute's Gombe Chimpanzee Blog is preparing with the EarthWatchr project. Using a combination of Google Maps and Google Earth web site visitors can make comments about the interesting Blog posts. The comments will also be available to look at directly in Google Earth where the Blog was posted. Examples are already available to see how this can work. I can see how this example can be developed for many environmental, conservation, and natural resource projects in the near future. I have made contact with the webmaster for this project and will post additional comments in the near future.

Other Google Earth environmental and conservation projects that have been making headlines the past few days and weeks include the following:

Appalachian Voices -
470 mountain tops destroyed by mining.
Crisis in Darfur - Genocide prevention mapping initiative.
Eyes on Dafur - See the proof with yor own eyes.
June 10, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle article - Google to harness satellite power for an Amazon tribe.
World Wildlife Fund For Nature Projects around the world.
United Nations Environment Programme

For more information related to other new conservation geography projects that are constantly becoming available please look at the following sources.

Google Earth Blog
Ogle Earth
Juicy Geography
Where 2.0 2007 Conference
The Fifth Intenational Symposium on Digital Earth
Digital Earth Blog
Google Developer Day 2007 includes a YouTube channel to view 128 sessions taped around the world.

Also I should mention that many new Google Earth location entry projects are submitted every day to various sections of the Google Earth Community. See especially the sections on Environment and Conservation and Nature and Geography.

Of note, C/NET News.com News Blog and other sources have recently reported that Michael Jones, chief technology officer of Google Earth said "More than 200 million people worldwide have downloaded the application" and "that Google Earth, which launched two years ago, has also drawn more installations than Microsoft's Windows XP.