Announcing the Completely New Index

On June 14, 2011 · 4 Comments

It’s a big day on the Twelve Mile Circle. I’m ready to publicly debut a new version of my Complete Index page after it’s "soft opening" over the weekend. I figured a geo-oddities website deserved a decent geocoded index with an intuitive Google Maps interface. I didn’t figure it would take almost a year to accomplish it.

Feel free to click the link above and examine the page at your convenience. It will be available as a prominent link on the right-side column of the website so don’t worry about bookmarking it. You’ll always be able to find your way to the complete index from any page on the site. Those of you who prefer instant gratification can jump over there right now and I’ll see you in a couple of days. For the rest of you, please open the index in another tab or window. I’ll walk you through the features and provide you with some additional background information.

The first thing you’ll notice is that I’ve set the United States (lower 48) as the default view. That’s not intended as a slight to the rest of the 12MC audience. It simply reflects that most of my content falls here. I created a robust selection of other views in the right column for those of you with interests in different areas, from as broad as a worldwide view to as narrow as inside the Washington, DC beltway. Here’s the dirty little secret though: they all load the same data file. You can zoom in or out, move to wherever you like, and select any area on the globe from any of the pages. The viewing options are merely a convenience.

I know that makes loading times a little longer but I didn’t want to have to create multiple data files and worry about how to keep them all up-to-date; this way I can maintain only a single file. I imagine there will be a day when an ever-growing number of waypoints will bog the map down. Hopefully my mapping skills will improve by then and I can find a better solution. Currently it loads fine for me but let me know if it creates an unbearable situation on your end and maybe I’ll reconsider this sooner.

Each marker represents a location featured in a 12MC article. I’ve also included a lot of places mentioned in comments so you might see some of your own handiwork represented. I’ve labeled them as "reader contributions." I also discovered that some articles couldn’t be tagged to a single spot. Maybe they were announcements — like this article — or maybe the topic was so broad that a discrete point didn’t make sense. Readers can still find all of them included on the text list of every article displayed below the map.

Some of you may have noticed that the page format is a little different than what you’ve come to expect on the blog. That’s for two reasons: (1) I outstripped the capacity of Google’s "My Maps" tool, which would have been a simple way to embed the map in a WordPress blog. Unfortunately it allowed only a couple of hundred waypoints which I didn’t discover until well into the project. I had to regroup and start over with my own .xml file. This was so amazingly tedious and boring that I couldn’t geocode more than a couple of entries at a sitting. Many months passed until I finally completed individual records for each article. (2) I’m not skilled enough to embed a map of this complexity into WordPress on my own, and had to go old-school with standalone HTML. So it’s not the greatest thing on the web but it will hopefully serve the purpose.

I love looking at the finished product. It suggests all kinds of empty spots that I need to explore further and it reminds me of places I’ve featured in the past that I need to visit in person.

Kick it around awhile and let me know what you think.

I also added a Google +1 button, right above the Complete Index link. Supposedly it will raise the status of the site in Google search results if enough people click it. I think it works similarly to the Facebook "Like" button. It can be selected anonymously or it will be added to a list of preferences for people signed-in with a Google account. I have no idea if it will work but please feel free to click the one on the main page or any individual 12MC page if you are so inclined.

I’ll be back to real Geo-Oddity content starting with the next article. In the meantime I hope you enjoy the new map-centric index and the +1 button.

On June 14, 2011 · 4 Comments

4 Responses to “Announcing the Completely New Index”

  1. colin says:

    This looks great. I have thought something like this would be very interesting ever since discovering your site. It is interesting to see how much of the globe you have already covered.

  2. James D says:

    Wow! It must be extremely satisfying to see quite so many pins in the map. So many in fact, that the spokes radiating from DC aren’t initially obvious (although they are there, now that I’ve looked for them).

    And as with any large location dataset of the United States, it begins to match the population distribution. That does make a certain sort of sense: people make geo-oddities. So I suppose it’s now some sort of challenge to find geo-oddities in the vicinity of Scranton, PA, and Birmingham, AL, or indeed in that arc in upstate NY where all the cities are: there must be some there! Or maybe there’s nothing odder to upstate NY than their penchant for naming cities after places that experienced long sieges in the Classical world (Troy, Syracuse, Utica).

    Anyway, I am, as ever, looking forward to whatever new geo-oddities you find!

  3. Craig says:

    I feel like I need to find you a geographic oddity in Blacksburg to fill in that big hole in southwest Virginia.

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