During some rather aimless research on GeoRSS I came across a brilliant map based feed reader. Explore Our Pla.net is a tool for displaying geolocated RSS feeds, indeed it managed to locate the most recent articles on Digital Geography by having a stab at identifying the locations of the recent posts.
I was interested in the way that the Explore Our Pla.net worked, and the way in which some of my blog posts were being located in thought-proking places, for example the recent Atlas Gloves post was located in Morocco. It transpires that the Digital Geography RSS feed is being processed through Geonames. This service identifies place names in the posts and adds the relevant latitude and longitude, outputting the original RSS feed as GeoRSS.
On closer inspection I discovered that Explore Our Planet is a rather more ambitious project. Apart from a large collection of dedicated GeoRSS feeds, it links to a large number of very useful Web Mapping Services (WMS) layers which are displayed on a user-friendly geo-desktop. To fully apppreciate the potential of Explore Our Pla.net it’s necessary to register. You can then browse through the data layers and GeoRSS feeds as well as adding your own GeoLinks.
What’s in it for the classroom teacher?
With the geo-desktop projected onto a whiteboard, a teacher can identify geotagged audio/video podcasts and news feeds, switch between different map and satellite views including near real-time MODIS data from the Terra and Aqua satellites, plot weather, storms and earthquake data and map sounds from the freesound project. There are a number of other other valuable layers, for example daylight, population density and settlement night lights. Of course, much of this information is widely available, and in some respects other applications like the excellent Earth Browser are still to be preferred. Explore Our Pla.net is however web-based, and therefore available from any PC.