Where2.0 2006 is over, and people now disperse back to their origins, their heads full of sugar plum fairies, and mapping ideas. As with any conference, there was a lot of good brainstorming, and dialogues that should spark some interesting projects. It would be neat to see a list of all the projects and companies that are spawned at the previous Where, and next year to see what was formed at this Where.
Bring out your geeks. Bring out your geeks...
I was actually surprised there weren't more useful hacks for the conference itself. There was no SketchUp and GoogleEarth model of the hotel and various locations that users could walk through an annotate. There wasn't a demonstration of Imity's technology or another bluetooth/social software that users could install on their Symbian/Mobile phones for sharing contact information and localized information. There was no central GeoRSS feed of speakers, where they're from, local events and sites in the San Jose area.
I would think with a very specific, and technical, group of people that such hacks and demonstrations would be emminently useful and cool to see. I am as responsible of this lack as anyone else. My time was restricted getting SpeedLimit up and going, and then being over in Europe for several weeks before hand. If I get to attend the next Where2.0, or if I can attend Web2.0 or another conference, I promise to bring my alpha-geekhood and demo the kind of tech they're talking about at the conference.
There were several sets of "Lightning Talks", where 3 presenters each had 5 minutes to present some topic. I thought these were very well done. They forced the presenter to get directly to the point of their topic, allowed more people to present, and also broke up the longer 15 minute presentations. Each set of Lightning Talks was centered around a topic such as: mobile games, social mapping sites, or open-source GIS applications.
The Next Big Thing
Obviously, the end of the conference wrapped up with the question of: "What is the next big thing?" What will we be talking about and presenting at next year's Where2.0?
So far it seems like better incorporation of large-scale, commercial grade tools into the Open-Source and consumer-level community as supported by groups like the OSGeo, and popularized by Google Earth and NASA WorldWind.
Mobile presence and location-aware applications had a shimmering here from people like Socialight, Mo'Blast, and Imity. The next breakthrough will be when major mobile providers (Sprint, Cingular, T-Mobile, Orange, Vodafone, et al.) open up the location information that already exists on mobile phones to developers and users.
Overall, Where2.0 was a terrific experience. A lot was crammed into 2 days (plus a day at Google) and I hope I can get to another one in the future!