Google Maps for MediaWiki

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my organization uses MediaWiki as an intranet. Recently, I wanted to give the rest of our staff insight into the ongoing office search. A quick peruse of the MediaWiki extensions page led me to  the GoogleMaps module. One of the more user friendly MW add-ons I’ve played with, this extension includes an editor that allows you to very easily search for and add locations to a Google map displayed on your post. It also offers a great deal of parameters to control exactly how you want your map to appear; size, zoom level, satellite/map, etc. Best of all there’s no need to remember any cryptic syntax. Simply, get the map in the editor to look like you want it to appear on the page by navigating the standard map controls. Then, copy and paste the wiki markup into your post. Quick and painless.

Office Spaced

My latest project at work is finding a new office space. For anyone familiar with New York real estate, you’ll understand how much effort’s involved. Surprisingly, I don’t mind it as much as I thought it would. In fact I’ve come to enjoy seeing these raw spaces, seeing past their current condition, and imagining what they could be. I’ve found myself perusing design websites and reading Architectural Record on my off-time. The worst was when I was at a recent exhibit of Serra at the Moma. I thought … this could make a really cool conference room.


I was particularly aghast at a recent NYT’s article; China Enacting a High-Tech Plan to Track People.

Starting this month in a port neighborhood and then spreading
across Shenzhen, a city of 12.4 million people, residency cards fitted
with powerful computer chips programmed by the same company will be
issued to most citizens.

Data on the chip will include not just
the citizen’s name and address but also work history, educational
background, religion, ethnicity, police record, medical insurance
status and landlord’s phone number. Even personal reproductive history
will be included, for enforcement of China’s controversial “one child”
policy. Plans are being studied to add credit histories, subway travel
payments and small purchases charged to the card.

Scary. Essentially, the State seeks to have a birth to death record of every citizen’s activity. Before you say "that can’t happen here", remember the US federal government’s push towards a national ID card. How easily does this digital id then become a RFID tag implanted under the skin? No need to swipe it then. You’ll be tracked as you move around the city. I hate to sound like an alarmist, but as any technologist will tell you, all of this is well within the capabilities of current technology. Note to self: renew ACLU membership.