Jun 29

Nat Torkington

Nat Torkington

Where 2.0: Opening Address

I just kicked off the Where 2.0 conference. My talk appears below. Join the conversation on #Where2.0 and check out the Flickr photostream.

Hello and welcome to Where 2.0, the only conference dealing with the curious new ecosystem forming at the interstices of mapping portals, GIS systems, ubiquitous GPS devices, open source, and the Web 2.0. I need to work on my elevator pitch.

This world didn't exist when we began planning the conference in December last year. But two months after we started, Google released Google Maps (the creator of which is in the audience, and the product manager for which will be speaking later today). Within weeks, hackers had reverse engineered the slick Ajax API and built their own applications on top of Google's product (those hackers are in the audience, demoing at the Where Fair tonight, and speaking this afternoon).

To Google's credit, their response wasn't a flurry of legal takedown notices, a tsunami of cease-and-desists. Amusingly, we have both a recipient of a rare Google Maps takedown notice *and* the guy who sent it. Anyway, instead of shooting down the remixers, Google blogged about how cool it was that people like Google Maps enough to build on top of it, and Google worked behind the scenes to relicense their data so that they *could* offer this service.

Of course, Google weren't the first people to build mapping systems. The GIS industry has been building and displaying maps for decades, in the form of companies like ESRI and recently a lot of open source competition (look for Dave McIlHagga's talk later today!). The Internet mapping portals like MapQuest (part of the Open Data panel) and Yahoo! (participating in the local search panel and speaking tomorrow) have had their offerings as well. What Google did differently was to embrace the inadvertent Web 2.0 nature of their application: they didn't try to force their platform back into an app, they let it go to see where it would end up.

Google then added satellite imagery. Later, Microsoft announced MSN Virtual Earth: maps, satellite imagery, *and* detailed 45-degree photography of cities called pictometry (the General Manager for Virtual Earth will speak before lunch). Google added their first international maps to Google Maps, covering the UK. Yesterday morning, they released Google Earth and last night they released the Google Maps API. Internet developers and users love this arms race, while all the while the traditional map creators look on nervously.

There are two influences: open source GIS tools, and the mapping platforms being built by the Internet search companies. To help seed this destabilising change in cartography, I took a van load of open source GIS hackers and Google Maps hackers to Yahoo! and to Google. All parties enjoyed the encounter, and one recurring theme was that what we're seeing launch today is just the first step. There are a lot of standards and GIS knowhow yet to be subsumed by the Internet folks.

The mapping operators are nervous because this race will end when most of the value has gone out of displaying maps. The value will move to the applications around the maps: the data on top of the map. As Schuyler Erle says, cartography is becoming a read-write medium and the value will be the data you put on the map. He who has the most and best data wins. Value has been the big unanswered question around the Google Maps development: where's the money coming from? How can Google continue to offer this for free, when they pay companies like Navteq (speaking later today) for the mapping data they use?

The answer is local search (speaking ... okay, you get the point). I've been predicting that within six months we'll see one of the major portals offering syndicated local search to the people building map applications around Google/Microsoft/Yahoo!/MapQuest/whoever maps. Every mapping application has content around a location, and has people interested in that content and that location. Those two facts add up to gold for advertisers: looking at French Riviera beaches but your IP address identifies you as from the US? You need a travel agent. Looking at London traffic cameras? You might be interested in ride sharing, public transportation, and inner-city parking. Looking for housing offered on Craigs List? Perhaps you'd like a building inspector, realtor to complete the transaction, or an interior decorator who lives nearby?

These are all big-screen Internet applications, though. The other side of location is portability: having services wherever *you* are, rather than learning about services from your desktop at home. The market here is growing. The first wave of location services built on mobile phones suffered from the technology they were using: cell tower triangulation had too great a margin of error to be useful for turn-by-turn directions, which is the gateway drug for location services.

But there's good news on the mobile location front in the US. E-911 mandates will get us GPS chips in phones. Nextel have begun to offer phones with GPS and navigation apps for those phones. The best news, though, is that these devices are becoming programmable by anyone. The camel's nose is under the tent for hackers wanting to write their own mobile apps using the GPS locations the phone can provide.

Tomorrow we'll spend a lot of the time examining portable applications: social applications like Dodgeball, lessons of LBS startups like uLocate, the challenges of location-based marketing through mobile phones (by the founder of Symbian, who has an ingenious take on it), and a panel the obvious problem of privacy.

The present illuminates the future. We're here to look forward. We want to see who's shaking things up in the maps and mobile location worlds: what platforms are being built and what apps are being built on top of them.

Of course, the present is full of small details. I have to interrupt our navel-gazing with some reminders to clear the lint, if you will.

(thank sponsors, encourage networking, and introduce David Rumsey)

tags:   | comments: 1   | Sphere It

Previous  |  Next

0 TrackBacks

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments: 1

  WoooooYoo [04.14.07 09:42 AM]

I am sorry, someone asked as correctly to pick up a hosting of the provider. Look here Hosting Directory. WebSite Hosting Directory.
There is all Hosting Directory Unix / Linux Budget Windows ASP Hosting PHP Hosting Managed Servers eCommerce Reseller Dedicated Servers Colocation ColdFusion Free Hosting.

Post A Comment:

 (please be patient, comments may take awhile to post)

Type the characters you see in the picture above.