One of the greatest shortcomings I see with Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects
is with our use of maps and geospatial data. I have seen ideas here and
there on this mailing list and other places, but it's a big issue to work
I have background in geography/GIS, ability to use state-of-the-art software
such as ArcGIS (http://www.esri.com
) that is generally beyond the means of
consumers, and knowledge/skills on how to use it to make maps for
Wikipedia. But, the potential demand for maps on Wikipedia is very high,
the process of making them can be time consuming, and the number of
Wikipedians to fulfill it is limited. I did one a while back for Shoshone
National Forest. I could refine the look of this map, come up with some
standard, and given lots of time could make one for every protected area in
the U.S. (and then there's Canada and other countries). Despite this
possibility (with significant effort), I'm not entirely sure having only
static, non-interactive maps (quickly can become outdate) is the way to go.
I could probably write scripts on the GIS-end of things to help automate it,
and a bot on the wiki-end to ease the process. I have also played around
with the MediaWiki source code and been learning about writing extensions.
Also it would be fantastic to be able to use resources such as the
"collection of rare maps of Africa, dating from 1530 to 1915" that's been
mentioned. Depending on the map, sometimes it is helpful to georeference
them (geoTIFF is the format for this). Also, check out
(see "Where are the rest of
your maps?") And, the map library at Penn State (
) is quite extensive.
I know it's a significant undertaking to develop/integrate any capability
beyond static maps. It's beyond the scope of what Brion and the current
developers can handle, given our current resources. But, I think we could
use some discussion to learn what kind of maps/mapping/geospatial data
capability that people would like to see with Wikipedia? If given more
resources, such as support from a grant, along with well developed and
thought out ideas, and interest from the community, I think there is
possiblity to improve from the status quo.
I have put some more detailed thoughts about this issue here -
I mention issues concerning locator maps for articles, offline
maps/resources, GIS data resources available, copyright issues with data
from some sources, open source mapping/GIS capabilities that exist,
previous/current efforts - such as geocoordinates in articles, and other
ideas. Feedback welcome!
If this interests people, I think we could work to develop specific,
feasible ideas. I also have knowledge about writing grant applications and
would be glad to help.