(don’t forget to read part 1 of today’s activities)
First up in this session we had Michael Arrington of TechCrunch and Tim O’Reilly. These two were fairly entertaining, but didn’t talk about geo much at all. Quite a bit about search, and some about Michael’s fear of Facebook.
That was followed by Othman Laraki of Twitter. He showed many examples of how geo has been used with Twitter over the last few years, even when it wasn’t explicitly capturing lat/lon. Some examples were James Buck’s famous “arrested” tweet, and the Atlanta Gas Shortage (#atlgas) in 2008.
After Othman we heard from Michael Halbherr of Nokia. They’re doing some cool stuff with their handheld maps. In particular, their Ovi Maps (turn-by-turn navigation) are now completely free and becoming very popular. Since their launch on January 19, they’ve been averaging nearly 100,000 downloads per day.
Lastly was Dennis Crowley of foursquare. He recognizes that tools like foursquare are used much more often when game elements are included, which explains the variety of badges and other toys in foursquare.
Also in this session Matt Gallaga officially released SimpleGeo, a place to host all of your geodata.
After lunch, I checked out “The Big Picture from the Big Players”. This was a discussion moderated by Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineLand, with a panel including:
• Dylan Smith of Yelp
• Blaise Aguera y Arcas of Bing Maps
• John Hanke, VP of Geo at Google
• Tom Wales of Yahoo Local
- Hanke and Aguera both felt that small businesses were moving to the web quickly, but that it was still in its relative infancy.
- Fake reviews on sites like Yelp are a big problem, but with solutions out there. Hanke feels that larger crowds will help drown out self-promotion, and Aguera thinks that check-in models like foursquare will help grant ranking and authority factors to users, similar to the algorithms that rank web pages today. Wales says that even with some issues, the value is still worth it.
- When check-ins were added to Yelp, they saw a 4x increase in photo uploads.
- On how smartphones are changing things: Smith says on the web, Yelp can tell you “what’s good to eat in San Francisco” and that’s adequate. On a phone, you want to know what’s good right here.
- Hanke says that most new features in Google Earth and Google Maps are used by less than 5% of the users.
Nothing groundbreaking, but a lot of good insights. After that session, I had a chance to ride in a Google Earth-equipped Audi, and a video of that is coming later this evening.
Tomorrow’s schedule looks to be solid, with topics behind led by people from DigitalGlobe, GoWalla, Facebook and others.