I’m in Shanghai for the week, and boy does the internet suck here. Try to access websites on servers outside China and you mostly just sit and wait, hoping to avoid time-out errors. The congestion seems to clear for a few hours in the middle of the night, but then its back to sucking at the internet through a leaky straw. Most Chinese don’t notice — 90% have never accessed an English-language website (how many Chinese-language sites have you accessed?). And expats in China seem mostly to be resigned to this situation. Censorship seems to be mostly ad-hoc and in reaction to flagged posts rather than blanket or preëmptive — none of the GIS sites I checked are blocked — but the aggravation factor of waiting is not to be overlooked as a deterrent for casual users to visiting sites on servers outside China.
That’s the reason I’m here — to figure out what’s needed to set up a Chinese-language version of a Swedish website inside the great firewall, so that it actually reaches its intended audience. In the meantime, however, neogeonews doesn’t sleep:
- Earth Atlas: Free Geography Tools and Google Earth Blog both flag Bjorn Sandvik’s latest neogeo web programming feat, the Earth Atlas, which uses many of the datasets of his Thematic Mapping Engine in a slick web interface that uses the Google Earth browser plugin (which is still not out for the Mac).
- Canada elections mapped: Cedric Sam has Canada’s 2008 federal elections, to be held October 14, completely mapped. Cool and useful stuff.
- Animated Historical Political Boundaries: A great layer on the Google Earth Community: Giasen’s KML file of historical boundaries of empires past. Use the timeline slider to see the shifting fortunes of the great civilizations from 2,000 BC onwards. A version of this would be cool to have as a default layer in a virtual globe — turning it into a 4D world rather than just a snapshot in time.
- “Making of” panoramas: I’ve had quite a few requests for a walk-through of my workflow for the panoramas I made during my trip around Sweden in August, including from people who read this blog, so I’ve written a post about it on my personal blog.