Platial and Pleiades – rss feeds

I’ve become a beta-tester on Platial. The RSS feed tool seems to work better on the testing side of the site, although it is still somewhat quirky. The screenshot shows what you get once you submit a feed – in this case, the atom geo-referenced feed from the Pleiades Project. Now, what I would’ve expected, is that Platial automatically extracted the geographic coordinates for each item in the feed, and mapped it. That’s not what happens – rather, the Platial tool is expecting that you’ve added a feed that doesn’t contain geographic info (say, a list of church suppers in your area), and then you punch in the address, city, state, or lat/long coordinates. Now, that is indeed a handy tool for non-georeferenced feeds, but defeats my purpose. At least for today.

I’ve also tried using automatic feed generators for third party sites, things like Feedity on Archaeology magazine’s archaeological news page with Platial, and with Yahoo Pipes. I’d like to see where in the world things are happening! To date, not much success (Feedity tosses in advertisements which – I’m guessing – cause problems). I suppose were I handy with coding etc I could make it all work… but again, that’d be defeating the purpose.

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Pleiades Responds

My attempt at pumping Pleiades through yahoo pipes led to an interesting discussion with Tom Elliott, the direct of the Pleiades project. Tom writes

As Shawn observed, pumping that list of ancient names through a presentist geocoder (like Yahoo!’s) gives you suboptimal results.

Pleiades in fact stores locations for every feature (at least when we can determine their locations). In our customization work on Plone for Pleiades, we’ve tacked on a couple of other interfaces that aren’t as obvious to users as they should be. Anywhere Pleiades displays or lists spatial content, we also provide an Atom feed that’s extended with GeoRSS tags, as well as a KML feed.

So, for those archaic places, Shawn could choose to use either of:

Both provide the coordinates, and therefore get you around the geocoding problem.

The full text of Tom’s post is here. Thanks Tom! I’m going to see what I can do with those new feeds…

Yahoo Pipes and the Pleiades Project

I recently wrote about trying to get Platial to map various kinds of data. Today I tried Yahoo Pipes. Again, the task was relatively straightforward: can I get an RSS feed of archaeological data – such as ancient places in the (non-mapped) Pleaides website database – onto a map without having to point-and-click each individual place?

First of all, I searched the various existing pipes that others have created. A pipe, by the way, is a collection of different modules ‘piped’ together to mash together different kinds of, and sources of, data. The pipe updates itself when the in-coming data changes. I found the geo-annotated Reuters news pipe, by el80n. This pipe collects information from the Reuters news-feed, extracts the locational information from it, finds out the actual coordinates for that location, and then displays the result on a yahoo map.

pipe1.JPGI swapped the feed from Reuters to Pleiades’ Archaic places, and la voila. A number of the sites from that list turned up on the map. Now, there’re a few bugs in it. The place-extractor looks at the feed, and grabs the first ‘obvious’ place name. In Reuters, that’s the modern name. In Pleaides, that’s the ancient name. The database that contains the geocoding only has modern names, so things get a little odd. For instance, Artamis (modern Messa), gets mapped to an island in the South China Sea. There’s a query builder in the pipe, so I need to figure out how to get it to grab the modern name, while labeling the map with the ancient name.

All of this took about an hour. I had never used pipes before, and all I really did was swap feeds. Imagine what somebody who knew what they were doing could accomplish! You may view the live result here.

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