my personal blog

June 19, 2006

Earth 2.0

Filed under: technology,thoughts — Alfonso Surroca @ 3:34 pm

I said recently that I thought 2007 could be the year of location-based services. But, after reading this WIRED article on O’Reilly Media’s Where 2.0 conference, I think it might just come even sooner.

It started with numerous “mashup” websites, mixing up Google Maps with other sites’ data feeds to provide new and novel functionality, such as the ability to plot real-estate listings within a Google map, or the ability to embed the latitude/longitude or zipcode of a photograph within Flickr’s tags, and then use these to plot them on a Google map.

Now that we’re getting used to having the abillity to annotate online maps with all sorts of data from different sources, including our own personal information, the idea of mapping mashups is beginning to evolve into something more. We’re beginning to see that we can “tag” not only websites and news articles, but space and time. Before I could take a photo to share a memory, but now I can actually map that photograph and include a snippet of information, and remember when and where a certain event happened.

In the future, as more sophisticated technologies trickle down to the average Joe, we could find that the idea of augmented reality will come true. That is, I could walk around with my GPS-enabled mobile phone and Wi-Fi digital camera and when I snap a picture, instantly upload it to Flickr, geotag information included. That’s something you could hack together today, but I could see a consumer-friendly turnkey solution coming very, very soon.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. Imagine walking through Los Angeles and receiving anything from restaurant listings to traffic information to photographs to personal stories in real-time depending on your exact location. Today, you can do that whlie sitting at a computer through a mapping mashup. Tomorrow, you’ll do it while walking around staring at your phone/PDA/whatever device, making the information infinitely more relevant and meaningful.

In short, we’re fast reaching a turning point where the idea of adding metadata to something will escape the confines of the computer or even the internet into the real, tangible world. It’s hard to imagine the depth of relevant information this will bring into our lives, but it’s obvious that we could be entering an era of connectedness that will make the internet as it stands today seem about as connected as an old phone.

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