Net Neutrality – Cable Providers owning TV Networks?

May 3, 2010 at 2:06 pm (Uncategorized)

As I recently read and commented about on a classmate’s blog, net neutrality has become an increasingly debated issue over the past several years.  The issue goes deeper, however, as mentioned in an article in the NY Times.  Comcast is now looking into obtaining a majority share of NBC Universal, the parent corporation for the NBC television network.  This could cause Comcast, a cable and television provider, to promote the NBC/Comcast channels over those provided by competing networks.  As stated by the Times, Comcast claims it has no intention of doing that, but the idea of Comcast owning a major television network is a touchy subjects, for sure.  Given its troubles with net neutrality in the past, can we really trust Comcast to commit itself to staying neutral when it controls all the power?  I personally think that if this comes to pass, it is only one step closer to us having one major internet/television corporation dominating its lesser competitors.  Comcast has already been buying up other providers, and NBC is one of the largest networks on television.  I don’t know if this merger would be a bad thing, but I’m certainly apprehensive about it.

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Web-Based Activism – Saving Our State Parks

May 3, 2010 at 1:25 pm (Uncategorized)

When Rod Blagojevich was Governor of Illinois, he tried to shut down over 15 state parks and historic sites across the state, in order to cut down the state budget.  An initiative started by then-Lt. Gov Pat Quinn resulted in an impressive display of web-based activism: SaveOurStateParks.org

This website, while no longer active (the domain was taken down and is no someone’s wordpress blog, ironically), allowed visitors to sign a petition to restore the sites being closed by Blagojevich, as well as helping them locate and contact their local legislative representatives to call for the same.  It did not successfully convince the Governor to make this change, but the overwhelming support from the state’s citizens allowed Quinn and the legislature to call strongly for these changes, and when charges came up to impeach Blagojevich, he had completely lost his base of support.  This sort of online activism allowed people to better participate in democracy and the choices of their government by making their voice known.  When people like Blagojevich try to force through unpopular decisions, the internet allows people to easily make their voices heard en masse.  This form of activism replaces and improves upon real-life forums such as community meetings.  It is better because people do not have to travel or meet certain schedules in order to have their voices heard, but they can express themselves from home or the nearest computer lab.

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Business Intelligence?

May 3, 2010 at 1:12 pm (Uncategorized)

I just recently saw an article about advances in “Business Intelligence“, which piqued my interest as someone who is applying for a graduate degree in Business, specializing in Technology Management.  The article talks about how Google mapping technology is being used to link addresses to maps for business applications.  It also refers to the further application of these tools for use by the U.S. Army.  I think that this is a very important area of GIS to consider.  If we can improve the ways we apply business data to current mapping technology, we can increase the effectiveness of our business practices and create a more successful company.  Business Intelligence can integrate very well with GIS data, and this area of research will see a lot of advancements in the coming years.

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Updated California Fault Map

May 3, 2010 at 1:05 pm (Uncategorized)

According to the LA Times, a new map showing update fault data for California is being released.  The last map having been released in 1994, this new data includes 50 faults that were undiscovered 16 years ago.  I think it’s important to update maps like this more often, considering that fault location and the probability of dangerous tremors is a huge public safety issue in California.  It’s good to see that this is being done, though, because sharing this information with the public is a good application for the fault mapping research being conducted.  However, I think they should take this map one step further, the way the Times did.  They should release to the public a combination of the probability of tremor occurrance with the new fault map, and this should come from the state as an official map available to the public.  It’s important to have this data available and updated on a regular basis.  In addition, they should take advantage of our online mapping technology to make this data available over the internet, so that it’s not just people who go out and get a paper copy that are aware of these new faults and the dangers they indicate.

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Subjective Mapping?

May 3, 2010 at 12:56 pm (Uncategorized)

BBC just posted an article about how maps are subjective to the mapmaker’s intent and personal views, rather than objectively showing the world the way it really exists.  I feel that while many maps are objective, it is actually possible to create an objective map, as long as we limit the types of data shown.  Keeping with geographic information and eliminating other data can allow us to eliminate subjective input if that’s what we want.  As the article said, it’s certainly possible to create a map with unrealistic data, but the improved instruments available to us today should allow us to create a completely objective map.  As mentioned by one of the early comments to the aticle, we should soon be able to look at world maps in 3-D all the time, rather than having to worry about distortion from flat maps.  We can slowly eliminate subjective choices from basic mapmaking, although the insertion of additional data will make it harder and harder to keep the maps objective.

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