Do you travel? Do you want to know what is happening in the place and vicinity you are traveling to? Do you want to keep up with the latest news in the place and neighboring vicinity you left, especially if it is where you may have once lived or worked? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then our NewsStand, denoting Spatio-Textual Aggregation of News and Display, and related systems, are for you.
NewsStand46 is an example application of a general framework for enabling people to search for information with a map-query interface. As such, it is a variant of systems we have been developing for the past 30 years at the University of Maryland that we call "spatial browsers," as in Samet et al.39 and Samet et al.41 The advantage of the map-query interface is that a map, coupled with the ability to vary the zoom level at which it is viewed, provides inherent granularity to a search process that facilitates approximate search. This capability distinguishes it from prevalent keyword-based conventional search methods that provide a limited facility for approximate searches that are realized primarily by permitting a match through a subset of the keywords. However, users often lack a firm grasp of which keyword to use, and would thus welcome the search to also account for synonyms. For queries to spatially referenced data, termed "spatial queries to spatial data," the map-query interface is a step in this direction. Consider the action of pointing at a location (such as through the appropriate positioning of a pointing device or gesturing appropriately) and making the interpretation of the precision of this positioning specification dependent on the zoom level. This is equivalent to permitting use of spatial synonyms.
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