Where2.0 - Kickoff

I'm excited to be in San Jose at the Where2.0 conference for the next two days and will have an eye on what's next in location technology on the web and potential applications for the field of civic engagement

O'Reilly's Where 2.0 Conference brings together the people, projects, andissues building the new technological foundations and creating value inthe location industry.

Tonight the conference was kicked off by a Ignite Where, a series of short 5 minute presentations, and the launch of about six new web offerings. Besides some of the more geeky presentations about data formats and collection, a couple of neat applications cought my attention:

- GeoCommons seems to be a great new tool to mashup datasets, an approach that reminds me of Yahoo Pipes, but with the ability to upload own datasets and the use of other user's datasets.

GeoCommons is a community that enables the collective creation of intelligentmaps. With access to a huge new world of geographic data and infiniteways to combine it, GeoCommons empowers you with the tools to gain andshare insight across your neighborhood or across the globe.

- Fatdoor is an interesting approach to connecting neighbors, although after their presentation I'm left with doubts that simply adding location to social networking will separate it from other social software applications out there. On a neighborhood level, connecting online and real world is key in my eyes and I haven't really gotten the impression this is something they do particularly well. They rolled out their service in the Bay area for now and it will be interesting to see where they will take this. I do think this is a domain that has huge potential, with no service filling this niche yet.

Fatdoor is a neighborhood-based community social network. It aims to help you find out more about your neighbors.

- UpNext definitely impressed me by offering a great 3D enviroment (only in Manhatten so far though) to explore what's going on in your city. The unique thing is that all information is contained by the building rather than a point on the map and the look and feel of searching and exploring the content is amazing. Definitely a next step in visualizing local content in the third dimension.

UpNext is a 3D virtual cityscape where users can explore and discover theircity. UpNext empowers users to search visually, straight from their webbrowser, to find what's UpNext in their city.

- The all-so-popular Twitter social textmessaging service is put on a map at Twittervision, a neat application, that will still have to prove its usefulness, with more features being rolled out over the next weeks. Definitely a service to keep an eye on...

Twittervision was launched as an experiment to help visualize trafficon the emerging service Twitter. But as it has evolved it sits at theintersection of blogging, presence, location-based services, andentertainment. A grammar to support Twittervision location updates wasintroduced and now other extensions to the platform can be made tosupport additional capabilities. Twitter and Twittervision point theway toward horizontal, federated approaches of providing rich presenceand location-based services.

Besides the energy of the fast-paced five minute presentations the voting mechanism used to select the top presentation of the night (winning a full slot in the conference program sometime during the next days) amazed me. A mashup of the Mozes textmessaging API was used to collect votes live from participant's cellphones and displayed in real time. I read about this hack before and it was great seeing it applied. I will post the recipe to replicate this some time after the conference.

All in all a promising kickoff and I'm excited to see what the big players will roll out in the next couple of days. I'm still a little disappointed though that my proposal to present iCommunity.TV as an example of location in social and news media was not selected for tonight's session, also showcasing Drupal's amazing geo-modules. Considering that none of the other presentations covered this topic, I'm even more convinced this would have been a great fit.

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