Saturday, August 26, 2006

talking about mapping

I hate to refer to the CIA in these pages but I found this document on world mapping to be quite surprising, if anything for being public (since 1975!!).
I have to see if they say where the nuclear weapons are hidden in irak.
It seems very useful information, I just can't bring myself to look at it as a inoffensive little book
CIA World Factbook


nuno said...

Carlos, the CIA World Factbook is a kind of internet classic, useful only for checking basic, tell-it-like-it-is comparable data on different countries.

A truly more substancial and important effort/ public service undertaken by the US Administration is the publication of de-classified records under the the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA -
that can be partially browsed from here:

The George Washington University maintains a non-governmental database of some of these records here:

And some more information on worldwide comparable efforts (and on the general subject of access to information) can be found here:
although, to my knowledge, no other countries offer a comparable public service at this time

Carlos Infantes said...

I thought it was a very comprehensive data to start a quick processing cross-polination map, since it follows a constant template for all countries.

but anyway, it is interesting that there has been this "contradictory" position to make a public evaluation of the world by a secret agency.

do you know if there is any political discussion following the first publications?

nuno said...

A flash visualization of the Factbook is shown here: (scroll down, although most of the other apps seem more interesting)

I can't remember where I saw something else done with it, but I'm sure I've seen it...

As to the contradiction, in principle, and in principle only, secret agencies in democratic countries must have a public face, and guarantee public access to its information as it gets de-classified (which already happened before electronic access).
Reality, of course, is more complicated, but that's another theme.

If you check some of the other sites I've mentioned, there's a lot more to it. For example, old CIA reports on the Portuguese 1974 Revolution provide great reading...