[Geowanking] Where 2.0, an open critique
geowanking at highearthorbit.com
Wed Jun 28 20:00:27 PDT 2006
I hope you don't mind, but I have some (ok, a lot) thoughts below:
> This year's Where 2.0 conference occurred at a uniquely optimistic moment in
> the evolution of locationtech. So many of the products and services that
> this community has dreamed and demoed about for years are now real. Custom
> maps, animated maps, interoperable mapping tools and datasets, public and
> multimedia geoannotation, LBS for consumer-grade mobile devices,
> collaborative mapping... all of these are available in some form to anyone
> with Internet access, often for free.
This is a major problem though - most mobile users don't have data
access, and not unlimited (or fast) data access. All/many of these
applications require the use of data connections that run the user
$20-$50/month, to then use this "free" service. And that's only if the
user has a data-capable phone - which is not typical in the US.
I agree that these products & services are great, but until data
access is: ubiquitous, cheap, easy to use, then these services will be
relegated to being used by technocrats.
> Also newly real is the corporate and
> venture funding available to many of the entrepreneurs building these apps.
Ooh, ooh, funding! :)
> At the same time, the sociotechnical problems that have long been expected
> from these systems—privacy invasion, privacy confusion, LBSpam, data-quality
> control issues—are not yet real on a large scale, however well-characterized
> they may be. This is partly because LBS developers have adopted successful
> design patterns from other "read/write web" contexts, but also because the
> user base is just not that large or diverse yet.
THis seems like just the time to start developing standards that make
sense and look to the future. Lets not design another static HTML,
(without flash). There isn't "lock-in" yet, so we can develop GeoPriv,
> So this is a sunny time, an
> opportune one for making and courting serious commitments of talent and
> money to the building of a geospatial web. I believe this is why the
> typically iconoclastic and creative bunch that assembled for this year's
> conference displayed surprising levels of geo-groupthink (in Jo's coinage).
Does geo-groupthink happen in one location?
> The most basic shared assumptions going unquestioned were 1) that search is
> *the* vector through which the "mass consumer" will discover the magic of
> the geospatial web and 2) that geospatial search is like any other web
> search, only with maps and routing in the results. I heard almost nothing
> about how the physical realities of real-space navigation impact LBS,
Well, think a little more abstract. "Search" is a user input. It's a
means by which a user specifies some action. "Find me this." When I
move my mouse through folders and click, I am "searching" for a file.
When I open a news page, my eyes search for relevant information (or I
Now think of Location as another "search term". Instead of typing in
"Detroit, Michigan", my IP/Wifi/GSM automatically fills this term in
One problem with real-space navigation is that it's so darn slow. the
"Armchair travelers" can be transported away from their local
existences to find out about vacation locales, what their friend did
on vacation, or imagine themselves surfing off the coast of Melbourne.
But I do agree that the virtual-travel angle is fairly well covered.
Loki was there to talk/sell the real-space LBS. Imity showed their
GBS? (Group based services?)
> that mean that there's no difference between browsing their content at
> neighborhood scale and flying around the globe?
> On the data collection side,
> I would have liked to hear from OpenStreetMap how their variety of
> pedestrian, biking and driving collaborators impacts their coverage in urban
> and rural areas.
This is a very good question. I remember seeing talk awhile ago about
how pedestrian could be utilized for evaluating better places to put
sidewalks, pedestrian billboards, etc.
> What advantages and disadvantages does that variety offer
> versus the commercial providers and their camera-mounted fleets? Even Oliver
> Downs from Inrix's talk, which was completely focused on information for
> drivers, didn't really address how the availability of this information
> might affect driving behavior.
Like if they route everyone around an accident - now all the
side-roads are clogged, wear down quicker, or anger local residents?
Then you start having guerilla street-blockage, so Inrix always thinks
that your neighborhood is blocked and so will never route anyone
> A corollary of this search orientation was that the value proposition for
> most of these apps was stated in terms of the individual user. Though I
> understand the limitations of 15-minute talks, I wished that one of the
> speakers who invoked "community" and "storytelling" had told us a community
> story. (Though I did hear a couple in the gaming talks.) As I listened to
> social software presentations about mapping the memorable events of your
> life and connecting through places to people who become your friends, I
> started to wonder what places are, anyway. Are they consensual mental
> constructs, founts of memories and conversation that need not be tied to
> Earth, wind, water and infrastructure? Or is the experience of place
> dependent upon a scarce physical resource that people are obligated to share
> and manage, namely, space?
Location is a means to provide context - where context benefits
understanding. I could say "it was a dark and stormy night", or "on
this beach in Cabo San Lucas" and both will give you a mental image
and placement for my tale/photo. Part of that context is also relation
- that deli I like is "just down the street" from the park where I eat
> But Yetman's
> datasets, which include information about population, urbanism and poverty,
> could be useful to anyone with an "on-the-ground" interest in places,
> whether they're out doing good, at home putting their traveler's journal in
> another context, or just voting in a local election.
It will be nice to have GeoRSS feed mashed into my blog, so when I
post at a location, other news nearby where I posted (or posted about)
would show up with that entry. So if I were an environmental blog, and
wrote about wetlands in Florida, I could bring in a hurricane RSS
feed, local environmental news, and local political news that was
located in the wetlands district.
> As if this long rant needed an "and another thing," here it is: Odd how
> James Greiner's talk on the second afternoon was the first to include
> first-hand evidence of the product's actual users. I know that Where is not
> a design or CHI conference, and that the brand-new companies and apps that
> were rightfully the center of attention probably don't have much user data
> they can share yet. But next year, when many of them will hopefully come
> back, it would be great to have a panel called something like, "What Are
> People Doing on the Geospatial Web?"
What I really expected was more pertinent demos handed out and mashed
up at Where itself. A mobile phone GoogleMaps of the hotel (which was
very confusing), or Yahoo Local to the nearby Where events and Sites.
Imity BT sending out a demo of their app. Wayfaring markers showing up
on walls. I agree that more demo's and user-stories, but also more
cool, pertinent, hacks.
> choice of channels for discussion. I'd love to see a more diverse roster
> next year: there are bound to be some interaction designers, social
> scientists, urban planners or even enterprise apps developers who could
> speak engagingly to this audience.
Definitely - though there are urban mapping, GeoWeb, and SxSW
conferences that fill up the rest of the year. So many conferences
showing up - does that mean there is great interaction? or just
separated camps of thought and interesting, and not enough
cross-communication. Everyone working in a bubble, or a mob?
ajturner at highearthorbit.com 42.4266N x 83.4931W
http://highearthorbit.com Northville, Michigan, USA
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