Here's my summary of day one, of two, at the Where 2.0 conference in San Jose, CA, USA.
It's the data! If there's a recurring theme at the Where 2.0 conference this year, it is data. From geo-spacial format and feed standardization (e.g. GeoRSS) to its sources. Comparing and contrasting this year's conference to last year's shows how far things have come. Formats and standards are emerging, albeit at low levels, when last year everyone had their own. With that said, one area that continues to plague the mapping/geo-spacial technology and product space is the walled garden of mobile network carriers. Sadly, handset, latitude/longitude, based applications are still far from reality; carriers didn't even bother attending this year's Where 2.0.
The keynote was delivered by Mike Liebhold, and he discussed two primary points: one, standardization of data types among anyone that has geo-spacial data, and two, his desire to see the Star Trek tri-corder become reality. The first point is a given and obvious; it needs to happen. The second point is pretty neat. He shared with the audience how he views meta-data as he views the world around him. He sees the data associated with everything he sees. So, for example, if you see a glass on a table, you imagine its associated data: color, type of glass, weight, date of production, location of production, etc. Pretty wild. I find myself doing this sometimes.
I thought it was cool that Mapstraction is providing a mapping API abstraction above Google, Y!, and Microsoft mapping APIs. With a single-line code change, you can swap out which mapping API you are using.
Imity is building a Bluetooth based phone application that detects Bluetooth devices (e.g. phones) that are near you, and builds a buddy list that you can navigate and send messages to. They're using the Bluetooth radio range as a mechanism to derive a "social network" around where you are.
Things are moving along in the space at large though. Not as much hype/buzz in the air this year, as compared to last year.
Google maps API announced support for geocoding (both AJAX and REST access). They've also introduced enterprise, paid, services for the API as well; phone/email service and support, full control over presentation (no ads!), US and Canada only, pricing is based on transaction counts.
How much of the web is rooted in geography? Last year the MetaCarta CEO said that 80% of the web references a physical location. This year he said the "average web-page has three good geo-references." There was another guy that has done some New Zealand GIS system construction who said that 20% of the web references a location. Clearly, the jury is still out.