Ken Snyder's blog

Street Beat

4 tools that support community building at the street level.

Just heard from my co-worker, Chris Haller, who is at Where 2.0 that Google has announced yet another cool tool for visualization. Street View provides panoramic views embedded as an additional view to g-maps. Initially this tool is only available in 5 cities: Denver, Las Vegas, Miami, New York and San Francisco.

Was able to locate the following YouTube demo. Corny video, but cool technology.

Geographic Web Resources Hold Great Potential for Place Making

At the PlaceMatters06 fall conference, participants were treated to the first sneak preview of, a spatially enabled hub for blogs and forums that adds location-based information to online discussions. Steven Berlin Johnson, author of several books including Emergence, and The Ghost Map, and the leading inspiration behind’s conception, demonstrated the beta site during his keynote session. It created a buzz with conference participants quick to recognize its potential as a tool for encouraging community dialogue and place making.

Imagine a 3D Google Earth World

Chris' last posting is big news!

Imagine a google earth world where millions of enthusiastic users build replicas of their homes and the stores/ buildings in their neighborhood and then they become veiwable by anybody else. Wiki style, people can work collaboratively to improve and constantly update buildings. What would normally cost billions of dollars for 3D design company to make available then become part of a 3D vitual town/yellow pages. And it would be built for free and rapidly.

Like Second Life

All Play and No Work for Jack Makes Jill a Better Planner

Several years ago I was with a group of people who decided to approach the makers of SimCity to see if we could convince them to develop a similar but more credible tool for planners, enabling towns and their residents to look at real planning challenges and experiment with different scenarios in their own community. The response was a solid "no, we're not interested, we're interested in making games.”

Can't blame them, considering the market for gamers is easily a thousand-fold greater than that for serious minded planners (not to mention realistic planning tools need real data to run credible analysis; imaginary cities don't).

$100 laptops open the door for highly interactive public meetings

What will be the next public participation technology? Here's one possibility… wireless laptops with electronic ink capability (and built in hand generators to boot!). All packaged to cost less than today's keypad polling devices. Way cool!


Too bad they're not for sale, but I'm sure others will follow.

Mambo is dead…

…here comes Joomla. There was a lot of uncertainty about the future of the Content Management System Mambo over the past months. Finally the Developers now left Mambo and started Joomla.

As this article in eWeek points out, "the original owners [Miro], wanted to regain control of the project. The developers, realizing that they were being cut out of executive management, decided to take the code and run…”

The outcomes might describe the state of open source today.

GIS more than just maps

Yes, we are all riding on the hype that Google Maps started, and the endless possibilities it provides. But looking at it from a planners/geographers perspective, are these possibilities really endless?

In the Directions magazine, Adena Schutzenberger points out:

     ... these services (Google Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSN Earth….) give programmers all the tools they need to make maps. Indeed. It may be time again to explore that age old question: what’s the difference between map making and GIS? The former is about presentation (“a map is a representation of structure, and a structure is a set of elements and the relationships between them”). While paper maps are not interactive, electronic maps may be, but that does not make them components of a GIS. GIS, its proponents argue, is more than just mapping; it’s analysis; it’s exploring what if; it’s using models; it’s developing more intricate visualizations


My colleague, Chris Haller, has done some great research on online mapping tools/techniques that can be used for community planning and community building.  Here's some stuff he discovered on GeoTagging. 

Since Google started its mapping service, based on xml and an API open to everyone, a lot of non-affiliated web applications have been emerging that bring GIS and online mapping closer to “Joe Internetuser”.