When is the next where

Couldnt resist this posting on Mapping Hacks. “When is the next where” ought to be a meme but apparently its not. Some ideas about why.

What does it mean? asks MH, because “I’m interested in communicating with that subset of a subset of geeks who actually care about both time and space.”

Its not a meme (yet) because
– OReilly havent mentioned it
– its not written in Ruby on Rails or Ajax
– no-one has yet applied for a grant to study it
– no-one has raised VC to build it and Google/ Microsoft havent bought it for >$1bn
– it doesnt involve several thousand Californian undergraduates exchanging data files when they should be working.

However, it ought to be, because
– we live in a 4D world (time is the fourth)
– coordinates in 3 dimensions are of only limited use
– so many applications now involve forecasting, or reassembling past events, where the time element is critical.
– so much of what we now do is dynamic rather than static. For instance, we have moved from the Lombroso approach, believing that criminals could be detected by static facial type, to detecting crime by changes in behaviour or speech patterns.
– simulation in particular is a 4d tool for dynamically reassembling patterns so that we can see possible outcomes when a wide range of variables interact.

Lastly my own pet theory that we do not see events in a long time context (where long means anything over 5 minutes). We cant see patterns over time, any more than people saw the moons of Jupiter before Galileo pointed a telescope at them. But massive databases will enable us to get a different perspective, a fourth dimension perspective, and I think what we see may surprise us.

To give a concrete example: if the UK police vehicle database information, mentioned above, was used to examine how individuals actually use their cars, and to analyse the multiplicity of factors involved, what would this tell us? Would it find correlations between accident rates and times, for example? Or with news coverage of accidents? What if the information was completely repurposed?

I hope Mapping Hacks find their subset of a subset of geeks: I think there are already plenty of us out here.

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