MelHack - But does it have frogs?

7 November 2009, 15:38

So I have been reading with interest the stuff coming from the Government 2.0 Taskforce. Even if the name is hard to take seriously, it’s a lot better than the last time the federal government tried blogging. Probably because those making the most interesting noises are not those in government, but nevermind…

Two interesting things to come from that have been the Mashup Australia competition and the data.australia.gov.au portal, which is really cool but I am afraid will not have a life much beyond the competition… hopefully I’m wrong there.

The NSW state government is also doing a similar thing, although they announced it earlier and released their data later.

As part of the Mashup Australia competition, the taskforce organised a “hacking event” in Canberra called GovHack (see also SMH story). Sydney had not one but two similar events, hosted by Open Australia and Google, and until quite late it looked like Melbourne was going to miss out. At more or less the last minute, Lonely Planet came to the rescue and converted their OpenSocial/LP API hack day to also incorporate the GovHack stuff. And hence we have MelHack where I find myself for the weekend.

This morning I also gave a short presentation on how to use Wiki[mp]edia data. You can see my slides on Slideshare. Feel free to ask me for more detail because they’re pretty sparse.

So now comes the 24 hours to hack. Unfortunately I don’t have any great society-transforming idea in mind, and the data sets at first glance don’t help. The interesting ones are sparse, or it seems an interesting app might combine 3 or more of them, whereas I’m pretty sure I should start with just 1 and make sure I can work with that, before using any more. So what to do?

Well, when in doubt, why not go with frogs.

The South Australian frog atlas contains over 6,700 sightings of frogs. This is what happens when you convert the CSV to XML and basically just chuck them all on a map. I haven’t worked with Google Maps before, but maps do seem to be a vital element in mashups, so it’s a good a time as any to learn.

OK, that’s frogspotter v1. I will work on making v2 more useful. ;)

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  1. Hi Brianna,
    Frogspotter looks like a really cool and useful mashup of the data. :-)

    I don’t know whether Frogspotter is a standalone site or the data is loaded into Gmaps by KML, but if Frogspotter is a standalone app I thought you might find the the MarkerClusterer marker manager useful.

    It handles lots of markers really well, so your pages don’t slow down that much when loading the site and rendering the map.

    Hope it’s useful to you!

    Lindsay Holmwood · Nov 7, 10:15 PM · #

  2. Oh, silly me, I forgot to add a link. You can find an intro to the MarkerClusterer here.

    Lindsay Holmwood · Nov 7, 10:17 PM · #

  3. Cool, thanks for the tip. I am already using some “clustering” thing but possibly the data is too specific and they are not overlapping enough to cluster up.

    BTW Gastro is awesome :D a great government data mashup…

    pfctdayelise · Nov 7, 11:36 PM · #

  4. Oh hah, you spotted my handywork. :-)

    The other nice thing is about MarkerClusterer is that it’s one of the more performant marker managers.

    That’s the main reason I switched to it for Gastro – page load times were reduced by about 75%. You already have a lot of markers on Frogspotter, so it might be worth making the switch.

    Lindsay Holmwood · Nov 8, 04:42 AM · #

  5. Neat :)

    I don’t suppose you’d want to add in photos of the frogs from http://www.freebase.com/ ?

    IE:
    http://www.freebase.com/topicblocks/index?id=/en/southern_leaf_green_tree_frog

    and most of the IDs are pretty guessable from the species name(s)

    Daniel O'Connor · Nov 9, 09:17 AM · #

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