Of W3G, AGI And Other Geographical Acronyms

In November 2008 I was still working for Yahoo and a fledgling meetup event for people interested in maps, location, geo and mobile started up in London. It was, and still is, called GeoMob. I was at GeoMob’s very first event, talking about Yahoo’s Fire Eagle location brokering platform. Four years later and it was great to go back, see GeoMob still flourishing despite a brief hiatus in 2010, and meet up with a lot of old friends as well as meet some new ones.

And what an evening it was. Truly a veritable feast of maps. David Overton spoke about SplashMaps, his Kickstarter funded project to produce lightweight printable fabric maps for outdoors.

I didn’t think it was possible to map happiness but apparently it is and George MacKerron showed how with the aptly entitled Mappiness project.

Staying with tangible maps, Anna Butler from Wellingtons Travel wowed the audience with her lovingly hand drawn map of the centre of London, styled after the glorious illustrated maps of yesteryear. Almost all the audience immediately added a copy of her map to their Christmas lists en masse.

Awesome hand-drawn map of London is awesome #geomob

And then there was James Cheshire who, along with Ollie O’Brien, runs Spatial Analysis and they’d produced Lives On The Line, a map of the life expectancy of Londoners along the path of the London Underground lines. Not only maps, but Tube maps. What more can you want?

Finally, standing between the audience and a thirst quenching GeoBeer or two, it was my turn. This wasn’t my usual talk. No mapporn. Not even that many pithy or wryly amusing images. Just some raising of awareness for the W3G conference and the AGI. As usual, the slide deck is below and the notes follow after the break.

Slide 2

So, hello, I’m Gary and I’m from the Internet. I’m a self-confessed map addict, a geo-technologist and a geographer. I’m Director of Web & Community for Nokia’s Location and Commerce group. Prior to Nokia I led Yahoo’s Geotechnologies group in the United Kingdom. I’m a founder of the Location Forum, a co-founder of WhereCamp EU, I sit on the Council for the AGI, the UK’s Association for Geographic Information, I’m the chair of the W3G conference and I’m also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

Slide 3

There are URLs in this talk but this is the only URL in the entirety of this talk you might want to take a note of. Although if you go there right now, it’ll 404 on you, later today or tomorrow, this is where this slide deck, my notes and all the links you’ll be seeing will appear on my blog. That’s a lower case “l” and a lower case “h” at the end of the URL by the way …

Slide 4

Before I get started I just want a moment to pay my respects to the first mapping API I ever used in anger. After being slated for closure in September of last year, the Yahoo! Maps API finally got turned off round about 1.30 PM London time today.

Slide 5

Now, despite being the aforementioned map addict, I’m not going to be talking about Apple’s recent foray into the world of smartphone based digital mapping, tempting though it is.

Slide 6

It also looks like at least one member of the audience tonight was hoping to hear about Nokia’s new Here maps platform.

Slide 7

But I’m not going to be talking about that either I’m afraid, though if GeoMob invites me back I’ll be more than happy to do so.

Slide 8

Instead, my brief talk tonight starts off with “Hello, I’m Gary and I want to talk to you about W3G and the AGI” …

Slide 9

So what’s the best possible outcome from a statement like that from you, the audience?

Slide 10

It’s probably something along the lines of “Ah. Yes. W3G. We’ve heard about that conference. Err. What’s the AGI?”.

Slide 11

That’s the best outcode. But is it a realistic outcome?

Slide 12

That’s probably along the lines of “The AGI? Oh yes. That’s the GIS organisation. Nothing to do with me”.

Slide 13

But actually there’s a more probable outcome …

Slide 14

It’s along the lines of “Eh? W3G? That’s the World Wide Web Consortium and you’ve spelt it wrong. AG what? Never heard of ’em”.

Slide 15

So to change this probable outcome, it’s time for some audience participation, which involves nothing more than sticking your hand up in the air.

Slide 16

Who here uses or works with maps?
Maps APIs?
Big Data?
Anything related to the concept of “geo”?

Slide 17

Despite the glorious maps we look at and work with, today’s digital maps that we interact with are just the tip of the iceberg and what we all work with is really GI … Geographic Information.

Slide 18

And this is where W3G comes in.

Slide 19

W3G is an (un)conference. The parentheses are important here. It’s the unique combination of invited guest speakers and open format foocamp style unconference sessions.

Slide 20

We’ve probably all encountered what I call the conference curve of despair. Where you see a conference you’d like to attend but it’s too expensive and it’s not even in the country you live in, let alone the city you live in.

Slide 21

But W3G follows the unconference line of elation. It’s free and it’s local.

Slide 22

Next year will be W3G’s fourth consecutive year.

Slide 23

W3G 2010’s theme was the 3 W’s of Geo, the where, the what and then when

Slide 24

In 2011 the theme was that there’s more to Geo than merely just maps and check-ins.

Slide 25

But just because W3G is free to attend doesn’t mean it’s free to put on. We’re able to do his through the cold hard cash that our sponsors put up and also because of W3G’s parent …

Slide 26

… the AGI … the UK’s Association For Geographic Information. The AGI is uniquely positioned to inform, react, connect and communicate on all matters relating to geographic information. From startups to global enterprises. From developers to business development. From local to central government. From classic GIS through to whatever the successor to Web 2.0 is called these days. I think it’s a worthy endeavour. So much so that I sit on the AGI’s governing council.

Slide 27

If you think this is a worthy endeavour and want to find out more, the interwebs can help.

Slide 28

W3G maintains a web site and a Twitter feed

Slide 29

And so does the AGI. Take a look. Get in touch. Thank you.

Written and posted from home (51.427051, -0.333344)

Written by Gary

A self-professed map addict, Gary has worked in the mapping and location space for over 20 years through a combination of luck and occasional good judgement. Gary is co-founder of Malstow Geospatial, which provides handmade, professional geospatial consulting. A Fellow of the RGS, he tweets about maps, writes about them...
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