Just like RSS, the death of the map has been widely predicted, but to paraphrase Mark Twain, the death of both have been greatly exaggerated. Produce an online data set with some form of geospatial or location content and someone, somewhere, will produce a map of it.
Sometimes the resultant map leaves a lot to be desired, such as the recent UK government’s attempts to map crime across the country. But sometimes, the map shows something much more interesting, topical and relevent, such as the use of social media in the recent events in Egypt.
Hypercities have produced a series of maps “for traveling back in time to explore the historical layers of city spaces in an interactive, hypermedia environment” and have now produced a map showing the Tweet stream during and after the stepping down of Egyptian government.
There has been much debate over social media’s role in the recent changes in Tunisia, Egypt and other Middle Eastern states; I don’t want to get into a debate over how much significance social media and the Internet has played in these events. But almost all wildly differing viewpoints in the debate agree on one thing; that this is a new development and that we’ve never seen this sort of thing before. So I was much amused to read that before Twitter, before Facebook, before social media, the Internet played another role in a revolution.
During 1991’s coup attempt in the then Soviet Union all official media channels were cut off, much in the same way as Egypt threw their Internet kill switch recently. But in 1991, the computer networks remained up and news of the coup was spread via Usenet. Maybe information really does just want to be free.