OpenData + R + Google = Easy Maps from James Chesire (via R-Bloggers is a compelling illustration of the use of R for mapping.
It also illustrates a couple of principles that are important for topic map authors to keep in mind:
1) An incomplete [topic] map is better than no [topic] map at all.
Chesire could have waited until he had all the data from every agency studying the issue of child labor and reconciling that data with field surveys, plus published reports from news organizations, etc., but then we would not have this article would we?
We also would not have a useful mapping of the data we have on hand.
I mention this one first because it is one that afflicts me the most.
I work on example topic maps but because they aren’t complete I am reluctant to see them as being in publishable shape.
The principle from software coding, release early and often, should be the operative principle for topic map authoring.
2) There is no true view of the data that should be honored.
Many governments of countries on this map would dispute the accuracy of the data. And your point would be?
Every map tells a story from a point of view.
There isn’t any reason for your topic map to await approval of any particular group or organization included in it.
A world of data awaits us as topic mappers.
The only question is whether we are going to step up to take advantage of it?
PS: My position on incomplete topic maps is not inconsistent with my view on PR driven SQL data dumps that are topic maps in name only. As they say, you can put lipstick on a pig, ….