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Mapping the news

John Walton | 12:39 UK time, Wednesday, 6 May 2009

"Great idea...and computing technology at its best," on the one hand and on the other: "Don't like it. Too fussy and can't really see the relevance."

These are two of the e-mails we've had from our users commenting on the usefulness, or otherwise, of the dynamic maps we've started to publish on the BBC News website over the last few weeks using Microsoft Virtual Earth and an editing system set up by Airlock.

g20map.jpg

The maps give us a new way to set out our content and have also helped to give a sense of location or a sense of scale to stories from the G20 in London, the Italian earthquake disaster, to the Indian elections. Most, but by no means all, of the feedback has been complementary but for all we think these maps have added to our news coverage, we are aware that they are still only a work in progress.

Ease of navigation was a major concern for many readers, and more is already being done behind the scenes by colleagues in FM&T to improve the presentation and navigation of the BBC content we place on the maps.

But there was one surprise that stood out from the feedback.

So far all the maps have been produced using Microsoft Virtual Earth and many readers assumed that the BBC was responsible for the maps themselves not just the editorial content placed on top of them - which was a tiny bit unfortunate when some of those who saw the G20 map pointed out that "Waterloo Strain Station" (see image above) isn't really that bad a place...

But we're glad to have dipped our toes in the water of dynamic mapping and already have a raft of ideas of what we'd like to do with them next.

Comments

  • 1. At 09:34am on 09 May 2009, TV Licence fee payer against BBC censorship wrote:

    Whilst I can see a use for such technology within a news story, 7/7 springs to mind here in the UK, I also fear that it will be grossly over-used by the BBC in the same way as the embedded audio/video flash media is now - it would be nice to have the option (without resorting to the text only version of the site) to turn off the pre-loading of such content and just having a link the media instead, in the same way as one can choose to see either the "UK version" or the "International version" of the same news site.

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  • 2. At 00:27am on 19 May 2009, jr4412 wrote:

    personally, I've had to "choose" my location twice now as part of commenting on an issue. I find the map selection unwieldy and would have preferred a postcode-based entry -- if indeed the BBC has to have the location data in the first place!

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  • 3. At 11:50am on 22 May 2009, Deaneh wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 4. At 10:14am on 09 Jun 2009, krishnamurthi ramachandran wrote:

    Your new applications of computing map are really great.
    World is changing day by day.
    We have to accept new versions on science and technology for better coverages and useful to mximum level.

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  • 5. At 00:42am on 24 Aug 2009, bretdriver247 wrote:

    I think it's a pretty cool idea....

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  • 6. At 3:15pm on 23 Jan 2010, M-J Taylor wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 7. At 11:01am on 05 Mar 2010, russianwoman wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 8. At 6:19pm on 07 Mar 2010, coolpete wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 9. At 06:57am on 11 Mar 2010, aniya wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 10. At 07:04am on 13 Mar 2010, russianwoman wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 11. At 07:22am on 15 Mar 2010, aniya wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 12. At 6:22pm on 17 Mar 2010, aniya wrote:

    Hopefully it will be a little more prominent next year, at least for the beginning of the season.Blogging

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  • 13. At 11:46am on 20 Mar 2010, Tico wrote:

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  • 14. At 8:32pm on 21 Mar 2010, Lee Jay wrote:

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  • 15. At 07:29am on 24 Mar 2010, russianwoman wrote:

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