Tag Archives: argleton

Return to Argleton

A few months ago I got a very curious phone call from Lawrence Grizzel, a producer for Punt PI on Radio 4. He was interested in doing an episode of the Steve Punt show about Argleton, the town that doesn’t exist that’s been covered to death on this blog for nearly three years!

Steve Punt interviews Mister Roy for Punt PI

The two of them were to travel up from London the following Friday and wanted “Mister” Roy Bayfield and I to show them the way to Argleton. How could I refuse? I rejigged some plans and worked out I could just make it back from Liverpool to the Stanley Arms in time to meet them.

The interview went fine – we led the way down the road to the field labelled “Argleton”, discussed how it was found and a couple of hypotheses with the landowner and Steve Punt then headed back to the Stanley to consume a pint of the specially brewed Argleton Ale.

The beer tasted a little like it hadn’t been allowed to settle and I’ve not seen it since so maybe it didn’t really exist.

The episode finally aired last Saturday and although I’m currently on holiday in Crete, I managed to listen again to the show.

It’s the first time I’ve heard the show and was pretty impressed. The show told the full story of Argleton from visiting the location to following up leads at the British Library, with cartography experts and even managed to secure an interview with Google and TeleAtlas.

It’s worth listening in, if only to hear my 15 seconds of fame but there’s a couple of interesting points.  Firstly was the guy when asked “so computers can’t tell the difference between virtual and reality” responded “correct – do we?” and secondly the new information offered by Google and TeleAtlas.  Namely that they can’t track down how Argleton (or Mawdesky or the other errors in West Lancashire) were added.

The cynic in me might suspect that their data source was slightly dubious but I’ve no proof.

Anyway, back to my bottle of Mythos and the barbecue!

Can you tell me how to find Topshop?

A couple of weeks ago my Twitter Search alerts for “Ormskirk” picked up the following:

Katie on Topshop

I was intrigued so searched Google Maps for “topshop near ormskirk” and sure enough, not one but two mystery Topshops were marked on the map.

Topshop near Ormskirk

Obviously this isn’t the case so why are Google showing them on the map? The addresses of the shops match Dorothy Perkins and Burtons – both other brands in Arcadia Group, owners of Topshop – but that doesn’t explain why they’re there.  As with Argleton, it may well be another case of Google mining data from whatever sources they can get their hands on and forget the accuracy.  I’ve reported the problem to Google, let’s see if they fix it.

Google Street View

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I was right – it took almost three years to arrive in Ormskirk, but this week Google launched Street View across most of the country including Ormskirk.

Argleton might have been wiped off the main Google map but it’s still there in Street View as you can see in the above Street View of Argleton Aughton Village Hall.

Edge Hill’s St Helens Road and Ruff Lane entrances are present but you can’t (yet!) look around the campus or Ormskirk Town Centre:

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Strangely on Ruff Lane the section immediately past the entrance is missing.  I don’t think this is a conspiracy, it’s more likely the route the Google Street View car took.

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Post links to any interesting things you’ve found on Google Street View.

Top 10 of 2009

It’s that time of year where you have to post an annual wrap-up of the previous year’s posts.

10. Google Apps Mail – POP/IMAP/iPhone

Just sneaking into the top ten is Steve’s introduction to some of the ways to access email for users of the new Google powered email.

9. New Departmental Sites

Sam introduces a summer’s worth of hard work (not so much from me – I was driving across America!)

8. Create a better search engine than Google

A post from late 2008 writing up a presentation I gave at BarCamp Liverpool and repeated at IWMW 2009.

7. Twouble with Twitters

An attempt to balance out #2 in the list by taking a sideswipe at those who are maybe a little too addicted 🙂

6. Argleton goes national!

A write up of some of the early coverage of the Argleton meme.

5. Rise of the Mega Menu

Coming soon to a website or portal near you – still a few things to iron out but we hope you’ll like what we do.

4. Roy Bayfield at the TV advert filming

Live on the set of the forthcoming TV advert and testing out the new Flip Camera we’ve got.

3. Browser stats

Everyone loves web stats, okay maybe it’s just me! Six months on and Internet Explorer has dropped to 76.9%, Firefox down a little to 13.5%, Opera has held steady while Webkit-based browsers, Safari and Chrome, have jumped to 5.6% and 3.6% respectively.  Breaking down IE shows IE6 use continues to fall (down to under 11%) while IE8 usage has trebled.  There’s hope for a standards-based-browser future yet!

2. What should @edgehill do on Twitter?

Little did I know when I wrote this post that it would unleash such a debate!  Ironically we’ve just had the 2’ of snow that benefitted Bath’s uptake so we’ll see whether usage grows!

1. Google Renames Village

And in at #1 is a little post I fired out about a typo on a map 🙂

Tags

As well as individual posts, a number of tag pages that rank pretty highly including “symfony”, “argleton”, “google maps”, “twiterdeck” and “facebook”.

Argleton goes national!

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It seems Argleton just won’t die! Late to the game behind the Ormskirk Advertiser, Mister Roy’s visit and my post about the village some 13 months ago, the Daily Telegraph yesterday revealed the mystery of Argleton, the ‘Google’ town that only exists online.

It’s a nice article with exclusive interviews from Joe Moran from LJMU and, of course, Roy Bayfield. They’ve also managed to get answers from Google and their data provider Tele Atlas.  Google’s spokesman said:

“While the vast majority of this information is correct there are occasional errors. We’re constantly working to improve the quality and accuracy of the information available in Google Maps and appreciate our users’ feedback in helping us do so. People can report an issue to the data provider directly and this will be updated at a later date.”

Ah yes, report the fault… that’d be what we’ve done on several occasions without success and may be the reason why Google have decided to take corrections into their own – or more accurately the user’s own – hands.  It seems that drawing the attention of a national newspaper has caused Tele Atlas to pull their finger out:

“Mistakes like this are not common, and I really can’t explain why these anomalies get into our database.”

Let’s try a bit harder, shall we… is it because there is no process for checking data before it’s added?  Is it because you’ve chosen not to buy additional sources of data to verify against? Is it because your error reporting procedure is so poor that 13 months later it’s still in the database?  No?

For Google, errors like these are annoying.  They recently announced Google Maps Navigation for Android 2.0 offering turn-by-turn directions similar to Tom Tom and other devices but for free.  Accuracy of maps and the ability to keep them up to date will be one of the big selling points.

But time may be nearly up for Argleton “A spokesman [for Tele Atlas] said it would now wipe the non-existent town from the map.”

Update: Mister Roy appeared on Radio 5live’s The Weekend News (starts at 25 minutes).

The end of Argleton is nigh!

I mentioned Argleton a year ago, Mister Roy has walked there and even the Ormskirk Advertiser has covered the issue but soon its days may be numbered!

Google has announced a new feature to allow users to report problems and suggest changes to maps. It’s currently only available in the US but you can see how it will work on this video:

I’ll be slightly sorry to see Argleton go but I’ll be glad to have my childhood home back!

Via Webmonkey.

Google Renames Village

I grew up in Aughton – that’s the bit stuck on the bottom of Ormskirk.  I lived there for most of my life but Google wants to wipe it off the face of the planet!

Okay, it probably doesn’t – their motto is “Do No Evil” after all – but the power of Google has renamed Aughton to Argleton.

I’m not sure which gazetteer they use but either other people use it too, or other sites are using the Google geocoder as the basis of their site because you can do all sorts of things in Argleton!  From jobs, to hotels – even my old primary school!  As more and more “Web 2.0” services make use APIs, we’re placing our trust into a small number of services to provide good data with no clear way of challenging the accuracy of it.

Please Google, don’t take away my childhood!