Plenaries, Privacy and Place

Day one of this year’s AGI GeoCommunity conference saw the geoweb track draw a sizeable, if varying, share of the delegate audience; some sessions were crammed tight and reduced to standing room only whilst others had a slightly less cozy but still enthusiastic crowd.

Showing that Steven Feldman, the conference chair, started as he meant to continue, both the introductory plenaries were from people well known in the neogeography end of the geographic spectrum; Peter Batty and Andrew Turner.

Peter started talking about the Geospatial Revolution and about how geo is now mainstream after starting off life as a disruptive technology. He touched on crowdsourcing, neogeography and how geospatial data is really just another data type.

Due to Steven Feldman’s over running welcome plenary, Andrew gave us a view on How Neogeography Killed GIS in record time; talking to an appreciative crowd on place, data, and how neogeographers see GIS professionals (answer: they don’t).

The geoweb track kicked off with Tim Warr, down on the programme as working for Microsoft, announcing “I’m not working for Microsoft as of yesterday” and then promptly launched into a talk on Cloud Computing and GIS; All Hype or Something Useful? and covered the good cloud (accessibility, cost and speed), the bad cloud (security, control and continuity) and the realistic cloud where you don’t put all your clouds in one basket.

I was particularly pleased to see that WOEIDs made their debut at GeoCommunity thanks to Terry Jones and Tom Taylor.

Terry spoke about Using FluidDB for Storage and Location Aware Software Apps. If you haven’t come across FluidDB before, think about it as a wiki database for the web, or as Terry says “Why don’t our architectures let us work with information more flexibly?“; I strongly advise you look into this further and see what potential this platform has. WOEIDs were mentioned to a somewhat bemused audience but with a nice mention of my talk on this topic later today.

Tom took this one step further and gave a well received and insightful talk on the way Flickr are creating crowd sourced neighbourhood definitions from geotagged photos, all tagged with WOEIDs naturally. Tom’s Boundaries microsite shows just how powerful this can be, visualising and displaying neighbourhoods where no official definition exists, such as in London. Tom is a natural evangelist for this sort of data discovery process and caused some wry smiles when he added “I’m not an employee of Flickr or Yahoo! They haven’t paid me to say this“.

I took part in the Privacy: Where Do We Care? panel on location and the implications for privacy which I’ve blogged about earlier.

The day rounded off with a series of soapbox style georants; 15 slides, 20 seconds per slide and with the presenters having no control over the timing. Lots of themes were covered, some serious like Chris Osborne’s ITO World product pitch, some … interesting … like the Pitney Bowes boy’s geojokes, some semi disrespectful like my “Neo this and Paleo that … it’s all just Geo” (which will end up on my SlideShare account as soon as I find a net connection with some bandwidth) and some just rip roaringly hilarious like Ian Painter‘s paeon to palegeography which featured Martin DalyEd Parsons, Darth Vader and Isaac Newton. All of which were received by an increasingly well lubricated crowd from the soapbox arena, also know as the bar.

Photo credit: myself and Jeremy Morley.

Posted via email from Gary’s Posterous

Written by Gary

Husband, Father, geotechnologist, map geek, coffee addict, Sci-fi fan, UNIX and Mac user.