Friday, March 21, 2008

Deer Blogging Their location using GPS, cellphones, and free Google Products

A buck named Thor is the latest member of the animal kingdom to take up blogging. He and two other Bambi-bloggers named Laura and Kelsy are part of a deer research project at Bryn Athyn College in Pennsylvania that is tracking and automatically mapping their location in blogger, Google Maps, and Google Earth.

What's really cool about this project is the researchers ingenious use of email/sms & entirely free Google products-working in concert with one another- to accomplish this.

Every 5 minutes, Thor's GPS location is sent from the cellphone on his collar via SMS to a gmail account. The gmail account auto-forwards these messages as blog posts here. This Blogger account is tied into this Google Spreadsheet, that through some google-hackery and error-checking, automatically feeds Thor's location data to a Google Map (below) AND to a this Google Earth KML file that auto-updates. Detailed and Step-by-step instructions of this new "Mail-to-Map" hack can be found here.

View Larger Map

It's not entirely clear from the College's website what the purpose of the research is, or for how long they will be tracking the deer. As pointed out elsewhere, one wonders for how long the GPS/Cellphone units will hold power, or if the deer will meet their demise from a local hunter.

In any case, there appear to be at least 2 "firsts" here: Non-human members of the animal kingdom blogging and the invention of a free "mail-to-map" hack/application using all Google services. Well Done, "Siberian!"

Digg this Story Here.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Data Art: The Sheep Market

"Artist Aaron Koblin's phalanx of 10,000 sheep, all drawn by random strangers through Amazon's labor distribution mechanism, The Mechanical Turk. Koblin's goal was to raise questions about the emergence of new labor systems in the information age"