People Suck at Naming Places

Intrigued by that title? So am I! It’s the title of the Where 2.0 Conference Ignite presentation my colleague (and Praized Media co-founder) Sylvain Carle will be performing in front of hundreds of geo-geeks at the end of this month in San Jose, California.

Description from his blog:

The world of precise coordinates is easy to interact with using software. The problem is humans don’t use precise coordinates to represent places. They don’t even agree on place names. They also do it in several different dialects. They use abbreviations, approximations and sometimes even metaphors.

To make things worse, human designing software to represent places don’t even try to make systems that can exchange that information using names instead of numbers. Do we need a PNS (place name system) inspired by DNS to resolve place numbers (latitude/longitude) to names? I will try to give an overview of the current existing services/APIs that you can use to find a precise coordinate with a place name. And then demonstrate why we are not there yet.

I might even propose how we could exchange these names between systems. All this in under 5 minutes. With images of ponies, pandas and unicorns, but no cats.

If you want to see him, it’s March 30 at the [praized subtype=”small” pid=”e6b91fa46df5c7b85857991ad038d9d5e7″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] at the end of day one of the Where 2.0 conference organized by O’Reilly. From their Web site, “Now in its sixth year, the Where 2.0 Conference is where the grassroots and leading edge developers building location-aware technology intersect with the businesses and entrepreneurs seeking out location apps, platforms, and hardware to gain a competitive edge. In the O’Reilly conference tradition, Where 2.0 presents leading trends rather than chasing them.” You’ll find the conference agenda here.

Print Map Design Influenced by the Web

Map2 is a zoomable paper map of London, UK. Yes, zoomable. Yes, print map. See the video here (helpful to understand how the map works).

zoomable map of London

It’s sold at these stores in London:

[praized subtype=”small” pid=”5c753c89d9aaa859ab204b0d0256f6df” type=”badge” dynamic=”true”]

[praized subtype=”small” pid=”2d296b5c3666533856d86eea968c0b95″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”]

[praized subtype=”small” pid=”1ba3f9fa9ab87b38dcef91a27c39526e” type=”badge” dynamic=”true”]

What it means: The Web has created new user standards and improved consumption of various offline content. In this example, a paper map can be “zoomed in” by folding and unfolding it. I’ve always said traditional media should look at user behavior on the Web, learn from it and improve their offline product. This is a great example.

Developer Creates Nokia N900 Mapping App Using Praized API

The nice thing about having a public API at Praized Media is that people are using it to do all sorts of great “local” projects. Pierre-Luc Beaudoin, a developer from Montreal (Canada)  just launched the first version of a mapping application called “Map Buddy” for the Nokia N900 device using the Praized API.

Nokia N900 Mapping Application Map Buddy Praized Media

He writes about his experience building the application on his blog:

Well, I finally got my hands on a N900 (given as a Christmas gift by Collabora to Gabriel). This gave me the occasion to observe first hand that the Ovi Maps, while having a lot of features, is slow and that the Hildon Emerillon port is less than perfect. It is hard to use with fingers and feels alien to the platform.

To solve this, I created Map Buddy: a map application specifically designed for Maemo 5. It is quite simple to use and works out of the box (no configuration or selection of plug-ins required!). It also has something other apps don’t: it uses web-services to provide business search capabilities.

You can download the app here.

On a related note, the Ovi Store just went live on the N900.

CanPages.ca Introduces Its Own Street View Feature

According to CTV’s Chris Abel, CanPages.ca, the local search site of [praized subtype=”small” pid=”58d245fd7e8f20800dee0ecd3af21f08″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”], the independent Canadian directory publisher, has launched its own Street View feature. CanPages has partnered with San Francisco-based MapJack to deploy this technology in Canada.  Abel says it’s very similar to Google Street View but includes new features such as “a fullscreen mode and paths that explore pedestrian walkways as much as they do the streets ruled by cars and trucks.”

You can see it in searches in Vancouver, Whistler, or Squamish (all in British Columbia). As for future expansion, “the company plans to expand to include Street Views of Toronto and Montreal next, followed by as much of Canada as possible.”

Vancouver Street View Canpages

In the last few days, an ad for a video camera operator has appeared in a Quebec job site, making people think Google was going to capture Quebec City in Street View. It’s possible but I suspect it might be an ad for the first French Canadian street view deployment of CanPages.ca.

What it means: looking at the introduction of new features inside the CanPages.ca site in the last 6-12 months, it’s clear that the exec team there has identified feature gaps inside YellowPages.ca, the main property of Yellow Pages Group (and directory incumbent in Canada) and are trying to differentiate themselves via those new features. It’s a good strategic move. On the other side, YPG has a mapping agreement with Microsoft and I’m fairly certain the Redmond giant is also taking street view pictures (many people on Twitter have reported seeing the Microsoft vehicle taking pictures). This will certainly be easy for YPG to deploy once it’s available in Canada. As I reported a few weeks ago, the new DexKnows.com has a nice integration of Google Maps and Street View.

Trendwatching: Two Important Social/Local Trends for 2009

The most recent Trendwatching newsletter (sent to me by Eric Baillargeon) covers two trends of note:

Feedback 3.0 which they describe as being “all about companies joining the conversation, if only to get their side of the story in front of the mass audience that now scans reviews. Expect smart companies to be increasingly able (and to increasingly demand) to post their apologies and solutions, preferably directly alongside reviews from unhappy customers. Expect the same for candid rebuttals by companies who feel (and can prove) that a particular review is unfair or inaccurate, and want to share their side of the story.”

Mapmania is all about map mashups and local content. Why is that happening?  According to them, “Geography is about everything that is (literally) close to consumers, and it’s a universally familiar method of organizing, finding and tracking relevant information on objects, events and people. And now that superior geographical information is accessible on-the-go, from in-car navigation to iPhones, the sky is the limit.”

What it means: Feedback 3.0 is definitely the normal evolution.  Companies (even small ones) are now realizing that there’s a lot of activity going on around their “brand” and with the rise of social media, store owners (or their employees) are now becoming savvier.  They should embrace this opportunity to join the conversation, learn from their mistakes or correct misconceptions.  They should also corral their loyal customers and ask them to become their evangelists online.  As for Mapmania, I obviously agree that we’re getting close to the “Local Wide Web“.  I think maps are an intrinsic part of local search (no service should be without maps) but I’m not 100% convinced local search user navigation needs to always start with a map.

Tracking Your Deceased Loved Ones with a GPS?

Read in the latest issue of Checkerspot, the official magazine of the The Canadian Wildlife Federation, an article about eco-friendly burials.

Natural burial grounds do more than just reduce pollutants otherwise caused by cremation and traditional burials. Some eco-cemeteries function as wild spaces, marking graves with local rocks and flora rather than headstones, keeping track of burial plots through GPS locators.

What it means: the last thing you will be remembered for is a lat/long number… That’s a mapping mash-up waiting to happen, virtual burial grounds displayed on a worldwide map.

Tracking Your Deceased Loved Ones with a GPS?

Read in the latest issue of Checkerspot, the official magazine of the The Canadian Wildlife Federation, an article about eco-friendly burials.

Natural burial grounds do more than just reduce pollutants otherwise caused by cremation and traditional burials. Some eco-cemeteries function as wild spaces, marking graves with local rocks and flora rather than headstones, keeping track of burial plots through GPS locators.

What it means: the last thing you will be remembered for is a lat/long number… That’s a mapping mash-up waiting to happen, virtual burial grounds displayed on a worldwide map.