Monday, July 17, 2006

Mapping Mideast Bloggers

The Truth Laid Bear is using Microsoft's Virtual Earth API to integrate TTLB's Middle East blog tracking with Virtual Earth's rather impressive mapping capabilities. The new map-based tracking page is here.

He has made a first pass through the regional blogs that TTLB has been tracking thus far, and have done his best to assign them locations appropriately.

Commenters raised some very valid points: Ratt said Hmmm , if you map the actual location of a Middle East blogger what happens if they are Pro-Israel and Hezbollah gets it's hands on the map ? Jackie Davis said Do you really think putting the precise physical locations of bloggers in war zones is a good idea? Isn't that sort of like publishing the spy's address? and htom said I'll urge you to randomly displace any exact address by +- 0.25 degree (about 15 miles) in both latitude and longitude.

N.Z. Bear responded Very good point. However, the maps are not displaying any bloggers locations to any real degree of precision. All of the bloggers in Beiruit, for example, are shown in the exact same spot on the map, which is simply a point roughly near the center of the city that I picked for that purpose.

So: I don't believe the map is providing any information that could actually be dangerous in itself. Any blogger in a war zone should of course be thinking of their safety and whether it is wise to be blogging at all --- and whether they even want to reveal their location down to the city level. But for those bloggers that have chosen to report their locations, I don't think showing those locations appoximately on a map changes their risk...

I believe he is adequately protecting their location. He might want to randomly move the point for the Beiruit bloggers by the +- 0.25 degree (about 15 miles) in both latitude and longitude suggested by htom, but it is still interesting to see approximately where the bloggers are from.

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