USC’s GeoDec Project: At the Crux of 3D Visualization and Privacy Concerns

The Geospatial Decision Making visualization/simulation project is one of many research focii at the University of Southern California’s Integrated Media Systems Center (IMSC). GeoDec conflates various data on a 3D desktop application which extends upon Google Earth-like technology to provide advanced temporal data integration.

The inherent value of innovations like GeoDec as journalistic tools are rivaled by the intense privacy issues they present as online, desktop and handheld applications on the cutting-edge of 3D visualization and real-time multimedia data.

GeoDec as a technology and concept is mind-baffling, difficult to describe in English, and worthy of poignant headaches in my aim to comprehend it. I admire the work of the numerous faculty, staff and countless hours/years several Ph.D. students have invested in the project and their willingness to teach me about it. (list of people involved here).

One example of GeoDec in action is real-time tracking of USC’s tram system on a 3D virtual map of the campus. Where is the most convenient tram to my location right now? This is infinitely useful data — not only as applied to transportation, but as applied to, let’s say, mashing up video and sensory data of a live wildfire with real-time weather conditions, etc, to predict its path.

But when it comes to real-time — and video — privacy alarms abound. No matter how much grant and research money is infused into such innovation, it’s impossible to look past the intrusion issues. Surveillance cameras are everywhere. I’m not gonna look it up nor do I really wants to know how many cameras would capture me while strolling the streets of Los Angeles, London, or New York. Granted, much of the video is eventually scrapped and even more is never seen by a human eye.

But with the GeoDec interface, it is possible to call up specific geographic areas or points and view a time lapse video stream for a given time period. A 360 degree shot of Disney Hall, archived and animated — you can get that from Google Earth. But a 360 shot of the Coliseum after the USC-Nebraska game with live video — this is where GeoDec gets, lets just say, provocative.

I’m interested in thoughts and feedback, as well as suggestions for deeper research — both for the GeoDec team, and for my dissection of exactly what the project means to the future of journalism.

Brochure: http://infolab.usc.edu/projects/geodec/GeoDecBrochure.pdf
Web site: http://infolab.usc.edu/projects/geodec/index.jsp

Future of Web Apps Summit — Day 1

Following are some highlights from my notes after the first day of the Future of Web Apps Summit in San Francisco. Overall, its been a great experience, with a nice synergy of speakers and useful presentations/tips. Here’s a bit o jerky to chew on:

Dick Hardt of Sxip opened with an entertaining, metaphor-filled powerpoint. In a nutshell, we all need to develop a “V1agra” app — one that enables the user to do what they otherwise are unable to do. Smart and secure, yet marketable use of identity seems to be the Sxip pitch, as the information collected in an Internet users multiple accounts and usernames help “predict future behavior based on what people have done in the past.

Next, Kevin Rose presented a little Digg history lesson, and then treated us to some apps and widgets in development (as well as some blog plug-ins that is slowly rolling out, i.e. at feedburner).

Rose touched on themes that were repeated throughout the afternoon — “keep it simple and rewarding,” “destroy the garbage.” Stamen is incubating a number of new features for Digg.

He credited the “Inside LiveJournal’s Backend” PDF as an inspiration and door opener.

That’s it for now — I’m off to an open-bar shindig hosted by the fine folks at Google especially for Summit attendees. More breakdown to come… Technorati’s Tantek Çelik was kind enough to post his entire presentation on Microformats at his Web site. Check it out.

Great photos of all speakers and the laptop-infested geek scene at flickr and also these gems at Laughing Squid.

Nancy Grace, ‘Where Were YOU?’

Last week, Nancy Grace apparently banged her fists on her desk and with a near-accusatorial tone demanded of 21-year-old Melinda Ducket, whose son went missing in late August: “Where were you? Why aren’t you telling us where you were that day?”

Hours before the pre-taped phone interview was set to air, on Sept. 8, Duckett killed herself.

Grace, known for her hyperdramatic guilt + ratings + missing blonde-haired, Caucasian female-trumps-all approach to telelitigation, practically cleared herself and her show of having any influence on Duckett’s suicide on her Monday night broadcast, and added: “Melinda committed suicide before that interview ever aired.”

The blogosphere is all over Grace for her apparent soulessness, hammering her for her guiltless “While Ms. Duckett’s death is an extremely sad development…” sidestep.

Scott Collins, L.A. Times media columnist went a step further on the Times’ Channel Islands TV Blog, where he slammed Time-Warner for giving her a soapbox:

trading every last remaining ounce of [CNN Headline News’] credibility so a former prosecutor can play judge and jury on TV — with potentially devastating results.

In my opinion, CNN Headline News lost whatever novelty it had (it still doesn’t hold a stick to any AM radio news round-up) when it’s 2 minutes of sports coverage became the megaphone for the unforgettably annoying Jerome Jurenovich But who am I to make such judgments…. I’ll leave the cross-testimonials to Nancy Grace(less).