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.