Where 2.0

posted on: May 17, 2008

Just returned from Where 2.0, an amazing conference about "everything geo".

Robert and I went there to present some of InSTEDD’s work and learn as much as we could from the geo-demigods in the event, as well as to connect with folks we had crossed paths in other forums (such as Erik Hersman – aka WhiteAfrican -pic below, of http://ushahidi.org fame)WhiteAfrican -Erik Hersman- gives his talk, ending Where 2.0 with a moving call to action.

Many folks we wanted to meet were over there and had some great dialogues about how InSTEDD approaches projects. My takeaways: communicate what we are doing more often, and have clear channels to participate in design. We are taking the feedback and this week we re-opened the InSTEDD online forums on our website and a collaborative design group for GeoChat. One of the challenges with having such a great team is that things happen fast  for example, Mesh4x over 2 weeks, the KML Sync work in 5 days) and we need to consider this when working with a community of folks whose insight would make the stuff better and who could imagine new uses for the technologies.

Jonathan in the Where 2.0 speakers' lounge, designin' what he needs for GeoChatIn that spirit we started an open discussion about the direction for our technologies. The GeoChat work attracted a lot of attention. Jonathan Thompson was particularly engaged giving scenarios about position updates via Thuraya satellite phones and email. Not only he embarked with us on some interactive design there-and-then but also started contacting his buddies in the far field to ask them for feedback on the scenario. Awesome! For some reason the code in the Google Code project has fallen behind the tree we check-in to, we’ll be fixing it next week.

One of the demos was about our KML Mesh4x adapter (a preview of the type of things you can do with Mesh4x). We got some good feedback on getting the versioning info embedded into the KML file, making it equally functional but more elegant. Play with it! See how you can sync one or more local maps with each other or with a cloud-based service, for example, setting up the N-way topology below (I was saving this sweet pic for another blog post but what the heck)

You can replicate this synchronization topology today with the mesh4x KML adapter download

The morning of our talk Mikel Maron and Jesse Robbins gave a new variation their "Disaster Tech" presentation (eTech presentation from them on similar topic), and did a great job of describing the tensions that exist when high-tech stuff meets high-risk environments.

We had the honor to have our batch of talks presented by Tim O’Reilly himself. I was humbled by the reaction of the crowd to the Sahana localization to Burmese for Myanmar Nargis relief crowdsourcing effort. With the smarts, expertise, and experience in the audience, better and more efficient approaches can be invented. Here are our slides, without the associated bobbing heads:

Astronauts are coolLast but not least, this event was particularly well-put together for speakers. The O’Reilly staff was super friendly and the backstage folks very professional. I’ve spoken in countless events of different magnitudes, with audiences of dozens to thousands, and was positively impressed.

It’s impossible to record every interaction and some things are worth blogging by themselves but hopefully this gives you an idea of what’s been going on the last days.

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