[Geowanking] more google and gis
anselm at gmail.com
Wed Jul 20 12:25:55 PDT 2005
There are still good opportunities for the open source community:
1) Volatility. There seems to be a trend towards pursuing a
'volatility edge'. Services can compete by capturing events that are
more and more up to the moment. Google was in itself a large
improvement on AltaVista for example. One can imagine open source
projects that capture the transient flow of human activity as it
happens. There are privacy concerns of course but a lot of the most
interesting and most relevant information is that which is most
timely. Jim Fournier deserves some credit for this encapsulation -
but it seems like there is almost a law at work here - a data version
of Moores law; that the value of data decreases exponentially with
Since Google tends to pursue the larger and more static data
aggregation - there does seem to be room for innovation here.
2) Insider knowledge. Some people have argued that Google tends to
study systems from the 'outside'; in an almost autistic manner - not
realizing that they are a part of the same system themselves.
This is probably just a legacy of their initial attack on the problem;
clearly there are a lot of bright minds there and they're just as
likely to build a really great community service and collect
information from that as to do brute force aggregation and analysis.
They can afford to take all paths simultaneously and select the best
of all outcomes, or can be second to the table and still dominate.
At the same time however they have yet to favor social knowledge.
Dodgeball and their blogging application (whatever its name is I
forget) are not contributing to their other projects; and seem to be
kind of lost in the muddle at the moment. For example the blogging
application doesn't help refine google search, and the dodgeball
application doesn't help refine google maps. One can easily imagine
the kind of say marketing analysis that a blogging community could
yield for example, or the kind of highly refined hotspot list a
location game could generate.
I've actually found delicious outperforming google for some simple
single word queries. For example I was searching for 'Taekwondo' and
found some instruction on the kata's faster and better on Del than
with Google. So that is at least one example where a slightly
intelligent social tool running on basically toy hardware by
comparison physically outperformed a massively huge brute force
aggregation and analysis strategy. It is instructive.
There was a classic Brittanica versus Wikipedia moment at the Where
2.0 conference last month. During the 'Driving the Mean Streets'
presentation by Robert Denaro of NavTeq the comment was made: "We have
invested 100k man hours in the last year to collect street data and
this is a significant cost that we have to recoup". This is point
where open source developers can leverage a better understanding. If
NavTek had invented the Web instead you might imagine the same
executive saying 'How are we going to create all of the web pages on
the internet for everybody to read? Can you imagine the cost!'.
There may be some momentary opportunity here therefore for open source
developers to work more closely within the highly social communities
that they typically inhabit and understand so well.
Also it is speculatively arguable that _real_ social knowledge and
real social awareness is to some degree 'anti-commercial'. It cannot
be commercialized and leveraged because by definition is is that
knowledge which a community uses to speak about itself. It can be
highly critical of commercial interests and or can lose its value when
not spoken by a genuine and respected participant in that community.
3) Domain Interests. Google Maps specifically doesn't yet speak to
domain interests such as archeology or geology. There is a wonderful
book called "In Search of Ancient Oregon" (
http://bookswelike.net/isbn/088192590X ) that I would love to
translate into an application; to actually dynamically explore the
movement of the continental plates such as that of North America from
Triassic to present.
A geo-annotated 'guns, germs and steel' also would be wonderful to
explore the ebb and flow of native cultures around the world - to
develop an intuition about these events.
The grass-roots social cartography layer that I think most of us are
excited by can be considered just a domain interest. Clearly there
are a lot of domain interests; and Google Maps only accelerates those
interests rather than inhibits them.
I have other thoughts re this but have to get back to hacking in any case.
On 7/11/05, Brian Lalor <blalor at bravo5.org> wrote:
> On Jun 15, 2005, at 3:52 PM, Mike Liebhold wrote:
> >> By the way, I guess I missed why big business is ruining open
> >> source GIS (sic).
> > This is a delicate moment, just before the boom. It's possible that
> > enthusiam for google maps could dilute attention from lots of other
> > important grassroots and open mapping projects just gaining
> > critical momentum, that could really benefit from the kind user
> > contributed code and hacks that people are doing with google maps.
> I would argue that this is a good chance for those other projects to
> learn from Google and make their products as easy to integrate as
> Google has done! I don't look forward to the day when Google starts
> embedding ads and whatnot into their maps, but I love that I can
> *easily* (easily being the key word here) visualize all kinds of
> information in a browser. I'd be just as happy if I could do it
> *easily* with Tiger data. Google has provided a dead-simple API and
> done so SO much of the hard work for me.
> The definition of "easily" is of course dependent on the person, but
> for someone with a limited knowledgebase of geospatial mathematics,
> it's just so durn cool that I can stick an icon on a map at my
> __ ____
> / / / __/ Brian Lalor "If you still have gas, you're
> not lost."
> / _ \/__ \ blalor at bravo5.org -- Jacques Strappe
> /_.__/____/ http://bravo5.org/
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