Day 2: Where 2.0 Conference 2009

Day 2: Where 2.0 Conference 2009

The frenetic pace of the conference continued on Thursday with nearly 20 presentations, demos and panels. A couple highlights:

  • Steve Coast, founder of OpenStreetMap spun a yarn about “ubiquitous geocontext.” He took us through an imaginary day in the not so distant future when our everyday interactions are encoded with geographic information and networked to share that information. For example, your car may “know” that when your gas tank is less than a quarter tank full, it should “look” for the least expensive gas available along your route, select the most efficient detour, and direct you to it. Your car may also alert you that Fred is offering to pay $10 to share a ride to work with you and that the detour required to pick him up would only take 5 minutes. Your appliances — such as your car, phone, calendar — will collaborate to perform realtime cost-benefit analysis based on your location, what you want to do, and where you are headed. None of these activities are difficult computing problems to solve, but they do require that geocontextual information is standardized (which it already is) and freely available (which much of it is not.) That’s the case for OpenStreetMap, a crowd-sourced repository of geographic information that is rivalling the more closed and/or proprietary data owned by Navteq and GeoAtlas. Think of it as Wikipedia for maps. Much of the informal conversation at the conference delved into the tautologies of “how open is an open API” and how closed is a black box.
  • Bruce Daniel of Cartifact Labs spoke lyrically about the beauty of maps. He presented Cartifact’s maps of New York and Los Angeles: a clean, current base map with an interactive lens. As you sweep the lens over an area you can display maps of that area drafted in the 1800s. See for yourself at

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