Sunday, November 18, 2007

National Geographic Interactive Google Earth Quiz

On November 12, 2007 both the Google Earth Blog and the Google Lat Long Blog featured articles (and Google Earth kml file links) about a new and very interesting Interactive Google Earth tour and Quiz related to the continent of Asia. The project is named "My Wonderful World."

Kathy Tang, project lead with Google, notes that they have teamed up with this "National Geographic-led campaign for geographic literacy, to give students, parents and geography enthusiasts a look at "Asia: Continent of Contrasts" during Geography Awareness Week. Held annually during the third week of November, Geography Awareness Week is an initiative to create awareness of the people, places and diversity of a specific world region.

I found the tour questions to be very basic but interesting. Once I chose a correct answer Google Earth would fly me to another part of Asia and I was provided with more information about the answer. I found myself turning border layers on and off and tilting and flying closer to look at some of the political boundaries and geographic features nearby. Turning on additional layers such as Global Awareness, Geographic Web and others led me to a lot of interesting information about Asia way beyond the My Wonderful World Quiz itself.

Then I looked more closely at the Geography Awareness Week 2007 web page, and found several other multimedia tours and videos related to Asia topics such as Natural Wonders, Tastes, Views from Artists, Wildlife, Festivals and Celebrations and other resources in Google Earth. Content contributions like these from National Geographic and others really makes the Google Earth program an educational learning pleasure and a great way new to explore our "Wonderful World."

Sunday, November 04, 2007

AskWiki - Semantic Web Beta test

A November 1, online article on the Wired Blog Network titeled "AskWiki: Wikipedia Knows What You're Thinking" provides information about a new "beta testing" Semantic Web development called AskWiki. The article explains that "AskWiki is a new partnership between AskMeNow and the Wikimedia Foundation, which integrates some of the semantic web and natural language features of AskMeNow into Wikipedia searches. The AskWiki engine is able to parse natural language statements and returns specific answers rather than just relevant articles." (See below for an AskWiki test question I asked!)

The article notes that Grant Cohen of AskMeNow, who headed the development of AskWiki "concedes that AskWiki is not perfect, which is why it’s still in a beta testing phase. “it’s still new, still young,” says Cohen, but even so it’s fairly impressive."

"Right now when you ask a question AskWiki provides a set of links to label an answer correct, incorrect or uncertain. And in the cases where the answer is incorrect or uncertain you can provide the correct answer, which is then fed back into the engine so the next person that comes along has a better chance of finding the answer to their question."

As a test, I asked the following question about Idaho, the State where I live: Where is the Frank Church Wilderness Area? The answer was not correct and I was able to note this on the Ask Wiki response. However the response did contain a link to the Wikipedia entry for Frank Church, a deceased Senator from Idaho. After creating an AskWiki account I was able to edit the Wiki page to provide the answer that "The Frank Church Wilderness Area is located in the central part of the State of Idaho in the United States." I also cut and pasted relevant information about how the Wilderness was created and named from the Frank Church Wikipedia page. I note that my edited changes have now been added to AskWiki. I also edited the incorrect information when I asked AskWiki "What is the capitol of the State of Idaho? by adding Boise and a link to the Wikipedia page for Boise, Idaho.

Google's OpenSocial and Ning Networks

Marc Andreessen, co-founder of the Netscape web browser in the mid 90s, and now co-founder of Ning explains the "astonishing" new Open Social initiative spearheaded by Google in his blog.

He explains that they have already added Open Social functionality for Ning Network creators but recommends that "anyone who is running a network today and wants to play with Open Social should create a new demo network for that purpose.

Last March, I created a Ning Network called the Idaho Common Adventure Network and I hope to incorporate some of the OpenSocial features in the near future. Meanwhile, I joined a new Ning Network "JoinOpenSocial" specifically created "for developers, members of social networking communities, and everyone else to learn, share, and discuss about Google's OpenSocial project." As time permits, and as I learn more, I may start a new project to experiment with this new opportunity.