Exploring Local
Mike Dobson of TeleMapics on Local Search and All Things Geospatial

Notes from Where2.0

May 31st, 2007 by MDob

I just returned from O’Reilly’s Where2.0 conference and have a bad case of information overload and an equally bad case of “featuritis” exposure due to an enormous number of new products or service extension launches by companies and groups attending the conference. Over the next few days I am going to dissect and blog about what I heard and what it might mean to users of geospatial data.

Several blogs have provided detailed reports about the exciting happenings at Where 2.0 and I refer you to them for the details.

Peter Krasilovsky has important articles about the conference at

Greg Sterling adds more here

And Perry Evans adds some fuel to an issue in his blog at

To me there were three important aspects of the show.

I. Neogeography is alive and well and, I think, may evolve into an interesting market-mover in the use and creation of geospatial data, while promoting a greater use of map as communications devices for social discourse. It is less clear that Neogeography will become a force in services such as local search, location based services or other applications of geographic data that require “authority” and knowledge of the permissions that being “authoritative” may grant to specific applications.

2. Where2.0 was different this year in that there were more corporate types in attendance. Similarly, the rash of new product announcement and releases was amazing for a show attended by 800. In large part the announcements were good PR because there is always a “buzz” around this conference even though most in attendance have not figured out exactly why. Perhaps more importantly, the announcements were positioning vehicles.

For the larger companies, the positioning was to convince the best and brightest developers that they should consider signing up with them. For the smaller companies, although interested in attracting talent, their game appeared to be an attempt to sell their products as munitions in the mapping/local search/search revenue war involving Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

3. Finally, it appeared to me that the schism between Yahoo and Google related to search philosophy continues to grow. Yahoo appears to be moving towards social search as the best method of correctly identifying and satisfying user objectives. Although Yahoo’s approach clearly involves behavioral analysis, it seems to be fragmenting the world of search into “social” stovepipes (whose base applications Yahoo owns (e.g. Flickr)) that reflect communities willing to aggregate and share because of a common need.

Conversely, Google’s approach seems more of a Web2.0 long-tailed approach. They provide tools, widgets, storage, bandwidth and, then. let the user decide how these tools might be applied. In a sense, Google is supplying a huge, multi-dimensional sandbox and asking the user to “come play with us and help build a new world”. In a sense, Google’s approach seems to add onto the saying “If we build it, they will come”. What’s the add-on? “If you build it, we will find it” and in the process follow their missions to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

I will blog more about these topics over the weekend.

Andrew Turner’s informative introduction to Neogeogaphy, is available from O’Reilly Shortcuts

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Posted in Geospatial, Google, Local Search, Mapping, where20, Yahoo

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