Where 2012 – Day Two

where.pngDay two of Where 2012 featured some great talks from various people in the industry. Here’s a few of the noteworthy things that we were presented with:
A Brave New World: Providing Context For What Is Possible And Probable by Charlene Li. Charlene gave a high-level overview of how location is increasingly working into our lives. One great stat she gave — 40% of tweets about grocery stores are simply check-ins.
Designing Fast and Beautiful Maps by Eric Gunderson. Eric is with MapBox, a slick tool to help integrate maps into your site. Today they released “custom styling” for the maps, a free feature that can help give your maps a very unique look and feel. It’s a pretty cool add-on.
Responsive Design – the Future of Mapping by Bruce Daniel of Cartifact Labs. He gave a great talk about responsive design. Responsive design in web development means designing a site that scales nicely across various displays (large screen, small laptop, tablet, phone, etc), and he mentioned how maps are often responsive thanks to their ability to scale. However, the basemap densities tend to scale with the zoom (zooming in shows more cities, etc), and his company is working on ways to uncouple the densities from scale.
Stratocam: Discovering The World’s Best Satellite Imagery by Paul Rademacher. We’ve mentioned Paul before (he built the first-ever Google Maps mashup, and then built cool things like the oil spill visualization tool), and he was here to show off a new site of his called Stratocam. It’s a very simple site that allows you to view and share noteworthy imagery, but it’s very clean and well done. It’s a great way to waste some time checking out beautiful imagery.


What the Mac? by Toby Boudreaux. Toby showed off an innovative way to semi-anonymously track users based on their MAC address, which has some interesting implications.
New Lines On The Horizon by Josh Williams. Josh previously worked for Gowalla and now is with Facebook, and gave kind of a “state of location in Facebook” talk. The interesting piece was noting how Facebook moved from “check-in” to being able to “tag” your location to any kind of content (text, images, etc). It’s grown quickly and they’re already seeing 2 billion items/month tagged with location on Facebook!
When To not use maps by Noah Iliinsky. Noah showed examples of data plotted on maps that had no need to be using a map (dance styles, etc) and suggests you answer three questions before using a map as the backdrop for your data visualization:
1 – Is location information meaningful?
2 – Is location the most important relationship?
3 – How relevant is the geographic detail?
Grassroots Mapping Flight Demo by Mathew Lippincott and Stewart Long. They showed how to take imagery from tethered balloons and some of the great uses of that. It reminded me of some of the awesome kite imagery that Frank has captured and it uses very similar technology and techniques.
Location, Context and Preferences: The Perfect Push Messaging Cocktail by Scott Kveton of Urban Airship. His talk was focused on mobile push notifications, since that’s what his company does, but he dropped one remarkable stat on us: Consumers are spending 94 minutes/day in apps, which is more time than they’re spending in front of a browser.
Contagions, Conquest & Quarantines: Mapping Disease From Venice to Houston by Thomas Goetz, Executive editor of Wired. Thomas showed how mapping has been essential in disease control over the years. I liked the tweet that @serial_consign said about the talk: “As a general rule of thumb, the black death is more interesting than restaurant check-ins.” Agreed!
Later in the day I sat in on Geobrowsing with Google Earth – Tips and Tricks from the Google Earth Team with Peter Birch (Google Earth Product Manager), Sean Askay, Brendan Kenny and Julien Mercay. It was informative, but didn’t really show much in the way of “tips and tricks”. I asked again (as I often do) about the ability to sync your “Places” data across machines. While they couldn’t say anything specific (they never can), it seemed to be something they were likely working on and couldn’t discuss, rather than the “oh, that’s a good idea” responses I’ve gotten in the past. It’s certainly a growing problem, as most of our lives are moving to the cloud yet our “places” are chained to specific computers. Hopefully a solution is coming soon, but time will tell.
I’m about to head down for the final day of Where 2012 and I’ll fill you in on all of that tomorrow. Don’t forget that you can view a live stream of the keynotes again today, so be sure to check that out.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. For syncing your Places across different systems, couldn’t you put myplaces.kml, or the entire folder onto dropbox and then a symlink or your system’s equivalent in the place Google Earth is writing to so you redirect its writing to the file in the dropbox folder.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.