Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Call for Swag

Ok. After talking with Glenn and Frank at Where 2.0, I need to get something out of this blogging gig. So, as a kind service as a geographer with lots of free time—and money energy—at work, I'm going to offer my services to review products from location-based tech firms. So, send me your GPS camera phones, bluetooth devices that trainagulate where I am in relation to Lance, and HD televisions that stream crystal clear maps to my living room. You have something cool, I'll try to break it or try to make fun of it and give it "social currency." Marketing departments—call me.

What Next?

Jeff Thurston over at Vector One, and David Maguire at Geography Matters are discussing—what I think we've all been asking—after a year of slippy maps, collaborative atlases, buzz words and acronyms is: "What's next?" Coming out of Where 2.o I got to see a lot of great things; people doing brilliant things; multiple groups converging and ideas being sparked. But to what extent? I saw a lot of ships passing in the night. Jeff is right, what is going to fill the gap between open source, slippy maps, traditional GIS business models, and data provisioning? Now, let's think about this carefully: Someone's going to break out in five to seven months, and they're going to make it big. It's not going to be your traditional GIS desktop builder, nor the the team with the pincushions. I think it's going to be someone who takes the opportunity to technically simplify how geodata is transferred, standardized, communicated, and displayed. They're actually going to redefine what geodata is and eliminate uncertainty. They're going to share data, sell apps, crowdsource, and make money. The goal is place, not space. Just watch. Someone who wasn't so busy talking about themselves at Where is going to take the shot to build that bridge that Jeff and David are talking about. And then who's going to be counting dollars—not L$'s—rather than "services?"

Monday, June 19, 2006


Good grief! I've been doing this for a frickin' year now?!? Who'd a thunk? My therapist said I only had to do this until the voices went away in my head. Anyway, I'd like to thank the geobloggers out there who I'm friends with, compliment, and compete against in kickball to keep this thing going. It's fun, it's a great way to meet up with people at conferences, and we all make each other better. Thanks. Now, if you don't mind. I'm going to geolocate the cookies I'm about to toss after that Nancy-boy gush of emotions.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Where Finale: GPS, Jack, Hacks, Games, Floods, and Gumdrops

I was taking studious notes for most of the conference until the last sessions of each day. Those were typically reserved for the lightning rounds where I stopped taking good notes and enjoyed the presentations. . . And chatted in the #where2.0 room in IRC. Here is my take on what I enjoyed from the presentations at Where 2.0 2006: Don Cooke, Founder GDT/Tele Atlas: Don is the probably the most passoinate guy I've seen who collects data with a GPS. This extremely entertaining presentation was, how do you say, "Awesome!" Don totes a GPS pretty much where ever he goes: on a plane, on a rolled over bus in Thailand, and when he's mowing Google Earth ads saying "Fun with GPS" into his lawn. He's even so passionate that he's proliferating GPS to other species, like his cat. Don, from what I can tell, is geographer/surveyor who's been there, done that and put together something successful that he enjoys. Now, how can I do that? Chris Spurgeon: Chris cranked out a presentation with about the five most important geohacks in human time. Eratosthanes' discovery of how big the world really was, the discovery of how to use the moons of Jupiter to roughly figure out longitude, Harry Beck's map of the London Underground, the creation of the VOR aero navigation system, and Polynesian navigation of the central Pacific Ocean. I really enjoyed this one too. It was a good break from slippy maps and Google Earth stuff. Plus, Chris was on my Pixie Hunt team and he rocks. MetaCarta Labs: I liked this. As did everyone else blogging. Map Spam 2008: Michael Bauer's presentation ranks up there in humor along with Don Cooke's. I wish there was video of this that I could show you. It's a gut buster. Gumspots Mobile Navigation Service: When Jason Kaufman started speaking in this lightning round, most people were asking themselves, "Is this guy for real?" Yes he was. Jason's presentation transcended the paradigm of presentations over the conference, in part from Jason coming from NYU's ITP group. Plus, who would create a mobile app to map your location based upon the pattern of gumspots on the ground? Jason did. Brain from Spatially Enabled and I tried it out at the GeoBlogger meetup and to our biased surprise as GIS professionals. . . It worked! Privacy by Lauren Gelman: This presentation blew me away about how the lawyers are exploring writing about online privacy, especially at Stanford Law School. It's all about expectations of how the content is presented. . . and mined. The feeling I got from this presentation was that the lawyers are more concerned about government data mining than data mining by spammers. But, that's just my take on it. Mobile Social (and Big) Games: David Trefry's presentation about big games was cool. I probably think so because my team won Pixie Hunt. Nonetheless, I had the opportunity to talk to David at the Yahoo! Social after day two to talk about big games an who has the mentality to "go hardcore" into big games. I noted that my friends who are in the Army and Marine Corps would enjoy this more than playing in their big game in Baghdad. We both aggreed that the hardcore players, are the ones, if on a team, engage and lead those who wouldn't typically be as aggressive in the game if the "just wanted to see what it was all about." (Or, if there was a really cool prize?) Anyway, David and I were talking about game development to for a short bit. Somehow I got on the subject of "WiFi traps" where you could set a trap to trap your opponent's phone in a certain place and if you deviated out of the trap, you would lose points or get disqualified. Neat stuff to run with. I just wish I had more time to do this stuff. The Jack Dangermond "Service" Counter: Ok, if you happened to be in the #where2.0 IRC chat room for this session and at the conference, you will understand the humor behind this. I like the prez of ESRI and I mean no ill will, but this was like the fifth time I saw Jack talk about this stuff so I knew he was going to say "service" or "services" quite a few times. So, in the IRC room I made the prediction of how many times he was going to say "service." I picked 15. So, as Jack started to talk, I started counting. I could hear the laughs in the room as we were doing this. Amazingly, when Jack stopped talking, we were at 15! Brady Forrest, the co-chair of Where, put a time limit on Jack of about fifteen minutes, which I know helped to get me at the number I picked. Thanks Brady. Now if we could have turned this in to a drinking game like what some have done with the song Roxanne by the Police. Finally, the trend at Where 2.0 conferences is to save the best for last. Cartography Commando Style: This was by far the crowd fav. It had location, the crowd had a sense of interest due to the impact on the American perception of how its government handles disasters, and it was a bridge to show the non-geographer developers in the room what applied geography/GIS is when it counts. I think all were amazed at the resourcefulness tha Ron Langhelm at FEMA was and how they were helping first responders and Ron's own experience working in disaster areas. The point that got across was that when stuff hits the fan like this, it's no place for a pushpin map. Perhaps a collaborative atlas that is gridded up? Some lightweight spatial analysis on the web to identify areas most likely to need assistance first? And the need for serious GIS professionals to assist in these situations. Hopefully it sparked some thoughts in the crowd about what to do next. Like in terms of Where 2.x where citizens participate and the monetization of the service isn't measured in terms of coin, rather in the preservation of human lives.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Where Swag: Me and TSA On 'Another' Collision Course?

Conference swag usually consists of the obligatory man purse loaded with junk. Well, at Where this year they've include a number of interesting items:

  1. A copy of Google Map Hacks (Which I should get Jo, Rich, and Schyuler to sign before I leave)
  2. A CD from Google with every desktop app they have.
  3. Conference Program
  4. A "Who's Who" at Where 2.0: A contact sheet for who those who said they wanted to share their contact information to network (My fav. As Jeremey noted last night, "I'm a social whore.")
  5. A cardboard mouse pad from Cruiser.gr
  6. And, finally, the fine peeps at Map24.com are setting attendees on a collision course with TSA by giving us multi-purpose tools that have a substantial knife.
Fire the marketing department on this one for making me go to the post office this morning to weigh my option to be frisked by the A/V squad again. Other key swag snags:
  1. Loki's WiFi Finder keychain
  2. A Loki t-shirt for my wife (they ran out of XLs)
  3. Two! ((Clapping Thunder)) Ha! Ha! Two MetaCarta t-shirts!
There's still today to bag some swag, I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Where Overkill

Lots of great stuff coming out of the Where 2.0 conference today and it seems it's getting covered pretty well. You have Glenn, Very Spatial, Import Cartography, All Points Blog, Ogle Earth, Geography 2.0, Ed Parsons, the GeoRSS bloggers, OpenGeoData, High Earth Orbit, and the O'Reilly Radar bloggers covering the event, and probably others who don't consider themselves apart of the geoblogger community. Overall, nothing really sticks out as an "eye popping" experience. The new version of Google Earth is neat, but it's not mind blowing like it was last year to the industry. The location-based mobile apps are growing, but are in an initial state of growth and development. The collaborative atlas people (Flagr, Platial, Zopto, and 43Places) have different thoughts on what they're providing to the industry and different business goals. The Flagr guys, who were on my Pixie Hunt team, seem to have targeted their little sisters and their friends who text and use MySpace. 43Places is geared towards the hopes that people share their experiences for the sake of self publication. Zopto is geared towards just capturing a share of the market in New Zealand and Australia. Then Platial is praying to make revenue off of ads based on Google's map platform, which kind of is the goal of the rest of the collaborative atlases other than what's stated. So, the discussion with the collaborative atlas people begs the question, "What happens when Google decides to pull the plug on your map API to persue its own ventures in collaborative atlases that ends up combining Notebook, Spreadsheet, Dodgeball, Picasa, video, KML, and Writely?" Anyway, I didn't get the chance to ask the question about the next stage of Internet and 2.0 apps? I asked Di-Ann Elsinor from Platial about what I talked about this moring in the previous post about lightweight spatial analysis. Not just lame-o buffers or viewsheds, but rather statistical probablity, or incompatablity, of like persons in the same area to share information that one would want to share with like, or dislike, persons. She didn't seem too interested in that future of geodata trends, and dismissed the idea. Oh well. (Note 6/15: I appologize if I mentioned that Di-Ann "dismissed the idea," what I meant was, "we're a conference, she's a speaker, and everyone has something to say to her, so she probably got 'hit' with a bunch of stuff already and just took it in for processing later.") Then talk about metadata came up with Mike Leibold's keynote and the discussion with the collaborative atlas folks. The GIS peeps in the crowd seemed concern that "mashers" noted that geodata metadata stinks, but in practice don't collect or even try to address metadata. So, in collaborative atlases or other geodata sharing platforms, geodata is a total FOAF issue. You can only trust who you think you know. Oh! The concept of "pushpin maps" is driving some GIS'ers crazy. It's "pushpin, pushpin, pushpin!" Someone asked whether yarn came with Windows Live Local. That's about it for proceedings. As for the social scene. . . It's a different crowd than previous GIS conferences that I've been to. I think it's the hard core mashers? There's a definite division between mashers and GIS'ers. There are some bridgers like Schyuler and Mikel, but there needs to be people who can be bridge technologies. My Pixie Hunter partner, Miten from Freeva, is working to develop an Locative Technology program at a local state university that I am close to and asked if I could help. It looks promising, but I need to check with work to see if I can get some resources to help Miten. I would love to start something like this. Miten brings the technical masher aspect to the program where I could bring the art of geography. We'll see? I hope that I can do something. As for the GeoBlogger meetup: Glenn found us. It was me, Jeremey from Mapdex, Brian G. and Erik H. from ESRI. I was hoping that Ed Parsons, Stefan, Sue and Jesse, and some others would show up. Alas, I screwed up this even with poor planning. Still, Where is two days long and so packed with content that its tough to do things you want to do.

Blogger Meetup at Where

Uffda. Did I plan this right? There's the WhereFair and the GeoRSS Microformats session tonight and I'm thinking this GeoBlogger meet over again. Any suggestions from the GeoBloggers at Where? (This is my 200th post)

Who I'll Be Talking To Today

Today's Dilbert calls too close to home today. I just had to post it.

'Where' is Intergraph This Week?

I'm at Where 2.0 this week, but what's going on in the GIS/CAD world at Intergraph 2006? I guess Gen. Colin Powell (ret.) isn't speaking until later today 10:30am EDT (7:30a PDT). I bet he slips and says, "Well, it's great to be here at ESRI this year. . " Actually, what gives? We've heard some ramp up to Where, but no Intergraph? Seems strange. Well, talking to Steve yesterday about Where and brower-based mapping, we think GIS is kaput. The world isn't ready for web-enabled spatial analysis. Really though, I think they are. They just don't know it yet. That's why I think a large number of GIS folks are here at Where, to begin to talk to the location-app guys to start talking about online geospatial processing via browsers. Albeit, lightweight stuff. So, here's a recap of what's happening: First there's the emergence of free and open geodata. Then comes the collaborative atlases, (which is still growing.) And once folks are adding and mashing data to their atlases, the next logical step in this evolutionary process is to create lightweight web-based spatial analysis and online geoprocessing. It's coming. Just wait.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Happily Ever After: We Won Pixie Hunt

Happily Ever After Originally uploaded by Fantom Planet.
End of story. Actually, it was a pretty good time. I met a bunch of enthusiastic guys out on a mission and we came home victorious! Thanks to all the other teams we played against, they had some real nice pictures too. Although, our team hoofed it most of the time, running (seriously) around downtown San Jose to complete all but four of our 28 tasks. The booty? Some Pharos/Microsoft Bluetooth GPS pucks. Again, good job guys.

Strange Things on Way to Where

This morning, whew, lemme tell you something about TSA. . . So, I find a knife on the floor of the airport while waiting in the security line. After several attempts to get the attention of contractors who check your tickets and TSA agents, I finally kicked the knife across the floor over to a TSA agent who wasn't paying attention. Wrong move. Suddenly, the A/V spaztastic team whips up into a frenzy and points me out at the culprit who "tossed" the knife at an agent. Uh-oh. So, they ask me if the knife was mine, where did I get the knife, who gave me the knife, why did I throw the knife? All in about ten seconds. So, I told them the truth. "I've been waiting in line for fifteen minutes to have you come over to me to get the knife. I was shouting," seriously I was, "Hey, TSA. There's a KNIFE on the floor!" So, they stick me in the holding pen, I get the full search. And I still get questioned! Go figure? Ah, travel.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Five Tips for Pixie Hunters

If you happen to be playing in this Monday's Pixie Hunt game before Where 2.0, here are five tips about scavenger hunts that I have learned over the years:

1) Aiding & Abetting. Don't open up the back door of a police car to let your team members out. You'll end up in there with them. 2) Booze is Currency. People will give, lend, or come along for the rest of the night if the the booze you're offering is cheap as free. 3) Dress Approprieately. Streaking down Market Street in San Jose might not be a task, but it just might happen if you don't dress appropriately. I recommend extra pairs of skivvies. 4) Bring as Many Quarters as You Can Find. You never know when you may have entered a foreign country. You can call home and pay off the federales. 5) Antispoofing. Watch out for spoofed messages. This is a technology conference for geographer-types. So, remember the first rule of cartography: "If you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'." If you get a note to find Jack Dangermond, you know it's from wasted Intergraph 2006 attendees like Colin Powell.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Leading Team 7 in Pixie Hunt

Ok, ok I volunteered for somethings at Where 2.0. 1) To be the captain of Team 7 of the Pixie Hunt; 2) I put in motion the geoblogger meetup. Boy, am I gonna be on the hoook to deliver. Now, I'm looking for some fun folks who like to get lost in strange towns for Team ("lucky number") 7. I have a habit of finding the local dives when I visit new towns and then getting lost on the way back to the hotel. I once got lost in Omaha and found out that I was in Lincoln. Then I ended up returning from Scotland with only one shoe, which my wife hates me bringing up. Anyway, you get the idea. So far, only Chris Spurgeon was signed up on Team 7, so you get to hang with a presenter. Now if I can only get Jeremey from Mapdex to sign-up and some others who I know are attending. BTW, I don't know if the team needs a name. Any suggestions? Then how's meeting up at Gordon Bierch at 7:30 on Tuesday 13 June? If WhereFair gets boring, bail on over to the geoblogger meetup and chat with us. (See map.) I thought to have it at The Lobby Lounge of the Fairmont, but I had already dumped the comment into Community Walk for Gordon Bierch, so I guess it could be there? Perhaps my mis-step could be a user requirement for CommunityWalk? We're going to have a good time. I look forward to meeting you. Update (11:02p 6/9): Crap! The Microformats BOF is also Tuesday night at 7:30. Maybe we should do the geoblogger meet up at The Lobby Lounge?

Where 2.0 BOF for GeoBloggers?

I just read Ed Parsons' post about Where 2.0. Ed discusses his hopes for a very good conference and the cultural clash between the traditional GI industry and those coming from the fringe to create mashups. Specifically, Ed noted the recent posts about GeoRSS and the debate whether OGC would "highjack" the standard. Well, Alan Doyle, who wrote the orginial post about his concerns about GeoRSS and OGC, commented on Ed's post that there should be a BOF session for the geobloggers in attendance. I think that would be a good idea. So, I created one on the conference wiki. Last year at ESRI we had one and it was a pretty good time and I think a number of us have kept in touch sharing comments and ideas. So, for the geobloggers out there who will be attending Where 2.0 next week, what night do you want to meet up?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Where 2.0: Pixie Hunt

Next Monday, 12 June, the evening before the Where 2.0 conference, there's a little game going on for attendees. It's called Pixie Hunt. I just received the email with all the info for the game and to start finding a team of five others. This is my shout out to the Pixie Hunt gamers who haven't found a home yet. I would like to ask them, "can I join your team?" I swear, the GeoMullah is a ringer. I used to be "man about Waikiki" a few years ago, and I'm sure the San Jose area is easy to make my way through. So, if there are any geobloggers who are playing let me know. We'll meet up and not only win. But win big, big, big! Plus, I need a team so I can start talking smack to the other teams. It only makes it more fun that way.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Targeted by Marketing Departments: Part Two

I see that the Canadian Cartographic Association's blog bit on same email from the Idelix marketing department that I and others received earlier in the week. Am I bitter? (Because perhaps I sounded bitter before.) No. Actually, as always with all pliable lens technologies: I'm impressed. Especially with it's application to the G/M/Y maps. And I know some of the Idelix peeps. Although, what is Idelix trying to do here with a PLT for slippy maps, make money? Because, yes, we're wowed that you took all three slippy maps, mashed them together, and scripted a PLT for them. Anyway, just look at Mapstraction and FlashEarth. They're working on similar mashups as Idelix. Now what are we supposed to do with the Idelix mashup now that we've marketed their mashup for them? Are companies interested in buying your services? Is someone supposed to hack your PLT hack and make their own type of PLT hack for their own collaborative atlas? Which brings me to another question: Are javascript hacks really able to pattented? Idelix says that their PLT technology is pattented. Is it for the mashup? I don't know. Perhaps that includes a follow-on email? Could someone build the same thing out of the ether if they really knew what they were doing with javascript? Then not get sued? Again, as always, I don't know. I'm not a lawyer.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Targeted by Marketing Departments

I don't know about the other geobloggers out there, but yesterday I received an email from the marketing department of a geospatial technology company to try out and blog about their product. Does anyone else get these? Something initially felt wrong about it——being targeted and all to pimp someone's wares. Then I thought, "hey, this isn't so bad. Do I actually have street cred that a pretty successful technology company would want me to review their stuff?" It's kind of nice to have that reputation, I guess? Still, I would rather write about interesting things I discover or have an interest in. Perhaps it's that "push––pull" concept that I'm wrangling with? I don't mind the nudges from time to time, but it worries me that I'm going to be a target for everyone and their mother to spam me with emails asking me to sell their kitchen sink. Anyway, I don't know? It's been a long week.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Something Better Than MapCruncher?

As much fun as I've been having with MapCruncher, I think I saw something similar. . . But way better today. The serivices are from a company called Geosemble, and they're into get this:

  • Vector to Image conflation
  • Map to Image conflation
  • Image to Image conflation
  • Vector to Vector conflation
  • Integration of online data
And did I mention that it's automatic? Some pretty wicked awesome math to do this. But it looks great, and looks useful. Looks like it could cut a lot of costs for some companies who spend lots of time manually aligning parcel data to imagery. Again, it's a service, not a tool. . . yet. I'm looking forward to talking with the Geosemble team a little more about what they plan on doing and how they can help map the FANTOM PLANET. On a side note, Geosemble is made up of researchers from the University of Southern California's Information Science Institute. The same place a few MapCruncher team members came from. Actually, I thought one of the MapCruncher developers was from there, but after checking, no. I need to stop reading so many stinkin' webpages, they're getting mangled together in my head.