O'Reilly Where 2.0 Conference - June 29-30, 2005 - San Francisco, CA
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Transcript of Where 2.0 telephone press conference with Tim O'Reilly and Nathan Torkington, Where 2.0 conference co-chair.

Note: this transcript has been edited.

Nathan Torkington: The premise of our business at O'Reilly really has been looking at what the alpha geeks do, the people who are at the cutting edge of technology.   We watch these early hackers who are pushing the curve, because their interest tends to reflect what people will be doing in the current coming months. (We spotted the people who were doing open source work and discovered -- it was at one of our meetings that "open source" got its name -- peer to peer, again, came from watching what people at the edges were doing.) Tim O'Reilly spotted a lot of interesting stuff happening in the area of mapping and location-based technology in general. So, for example, GPS is coming into cell phones, and the computer that everybody has with them all the time suddenly knows where they are as well. We have the growth of internet portals like MapQuest, Yahoo!, and Google, all offering their own mapping applications. A9 did something extremely interesting where they drove around twenty-two cities in the US with GPS in the car and about eight cameras mounted on the roof, snapping pictures of the fronts of buildings to produce a very visual yellow pages, which is a much more different experience to navigate than the traditional paper-based yellow pages. There's all sorts of interesting things happened. We thought, well, there's a lot of motion here. I think the time is right for a conference. Tim was really the driving force behind it.

Tim O'Reilly: As Nat was saying, we see this technology progression that often happens where we watch these people who are early adopters. When early adopter activity starts to pick up, we go, okay, entrepreneurs are likely to be not far behind. There was obviously a revolution in computerized mapping that happened in the 'nineties, where we started to see the introduction of mapping-based services, but after the introduction of MapQuest, which brought mapping to the Web, there really wasn't a lot of innovation for about ten years. We saw things bubbling beneath the surface, and in particular, we just started watching things like geocaching, which is a popular sport where people will hide things and others will go find them using their GPS. It was an underground thing growing in popularity. We started seeing a lot of open source people playing with various kinds of visualization. I don't know how many of you saw the Fundrace.org, a project that was done by Eyebeam, a technology and arts collective in New York. They did this leading up to the last election -- it was a visualization of campaign contributions down to the level where you could say "Who did my neighbors contribute to?" It was a real powerful system that was basically put together by a couple hackers to do things that normally would be done -- maybe by nobody -- and certainly not by anybody but the most experienced operative.

Seeing all this activity made us start paying attention. We started drilling down into the space. Another big concept that started to hit my radar as I've been thinking about the evolution of the next generation of computing is this idea -- I saw this capture in the data -- is the Intel inside. If you look at the internet-scale application, whether it's Amazon or Google or MapQuest, they're fundamentally data-driven applications. It's providing users self-service access to a database through web interfaces. There seems to be two big rules that I've seen for success in web-based applications. One is if you can get users to enhance your data, you have increasing returns, so eBay, for example -- the users actually built the database. In the case of Google, that's also true. Whenever people make links, they're contributing to the Google database. In the case of Amazon, they work their users to contribute, whether it's through reviews or ratings, or implicit things like collaborative filtering about what they buy, their associates program. So they've got the users enhancing the commodity database. In the mapping space, what I saw was a different pattern. That is that MapQuest, and then following in their footsteps maps.yahoo.com and maps.msn.com didn't figure out how to get the users to enhance the underlying data, and that gave a lot of power to the database providers, in this case NAVTEQ, principally. So NAVTEQ really is the Intel inside. In my talks, I demonstrate this by showing the cool new services from Google, and you notice the copyright symbol on every page. Maps copyright NAVTEQ, or when you go to the satellite images, it's Maps copyright Tele Atlas. Somebody spent a lot of money to build the underlying database, and all of the services rely on that data. Unlike companies like Amazon, which has figured out how to gain control of the data by having their users annotate it so that they own the compilation of enhancements, the mapping folks didn't figure this out. So I predicted this would become a vector for innovation in the mapping space that we would start to see someone figure out how to do this.

What was ironic was I don't think anybody figured it out. The market figured it out. When Google introduced Google Maps, which is really an innovation, I think, from their point of view, in user interface, they introduced this AJA interface that makes it much more interactive, much easier to use. By the way, AJAX was a term that came from the design community folks at Adaptive Path -- they coined the term to describe the combination of Java scripts and XML that sites like Google Maps use, and gmail and the like. What we saw happen really is an accident of the way Google implemented Google Maps, is that the XML was available to developers. We saw this explosion of hacker activity that we predicted but that still pleasantly surprised us, where people were effectively able to do mash-ups of different web sites. In our Web 2.0 conference, and actually in other conferences we've done over the last three or four years, we've been predicting this idea that the next generation of applications would be effectively synthetic applications that drew data and functionality from multiple websites. It's really happened, first, in this mapping space, or principally. I mean, you've had web services -- communities built around Amazon and eBay, but they're really centered on the single site, so their enhancements to the functionality of eBay or to Amazon -- some cases there's some additional innovative applications, but nothing like we saw with Google Maps where people are, for example, putting together Google Maps data with Craigslist to give you a mapping interface to finding apartments or houses to buy. This is powerful new functionality that comes from combining two database-backed websites into an entirely new thing.

So what we're seeing is a period of ferment where, in the overall context of what we're calling Web 2.0, this idea of cooperating websites being used to build new functionality and new applications. We started to see the emergence of the mapping space as a particularly fertile area. That's why we decided to do a spin-off conference that we're calling Where 2.0. Because we're really seeing a revolution in the way people are starting to be able to use geographic data to build new kinds of applications. We really think we're at the front end of that set of innovations. For instance -- maps and directions are being built into automobiles, but that actually is just the front end of interesting functionality. Once you start delivering that stuff into the car, you can deliver other kinds of digital content -- you can start to do interesting mash-ups there as well. I think Nat mentioned some of the competition that's happening with A9 figuring out how to do local search better by actually annotating maps with photos. A lot of people are, by hand, geo-annotating photos by putting latitude and longitude into the metadata for the photos, so you're gong to have services that allow you to find photos by location, or effectively to annotate maps with photos. We also have, on the horizon, a future in which cameras will have GPS built in, so the location data will be in the metadata for every photo, at which point you're able to take user contributed content, which is one of the big themes of the Web 2.0 era, and you're going to marry that to maps, and we're going to have an explosion of new functionality. That's the context that let us to put together this conference.

Suzanne Axtell: Tim and Nat, Jeanette Borzo asks what are the specific stories you see coming out of this?

Tim O'Reilly: Well, obviously what we saw was a relatively staid area of web mapping was shaken up by the introduction of Google Maps. It got a lot of attention, the satellite imagery, and now, of course, Microsoft has responded to the competition by saying, wait, we've been doing this satellite stuff for ten years. That's right, they have, it was a Microsoft research project, but suddenly they're in a hurry to bring it to market. Their Virtual Earth project, along with Google buying Keyhole, really has raised the stakes in the web mapping market. I think we're going to see responses from other players, like Yahoo!,   AOL, and MapQuest.

We also see the focus in this area leading to more attention being paid to some of the underlying suppliers, like NAVTEQ. By the way, I was talking to someone from NAVTEQ, who even mentioned -- back to the Intel inside concept -- that there have been cars labeled with NAVTEQ on board, in much the same way as computers have little Intel inside stickers. It's becoming an interesting part of the landscape. We're going to hear more from those guys. There are some other areas of mapping: the whole GIS area -- Geographic Information Systems -- which has long been dominated by ESRI. Again, they're starting to see all this web mapping start to invade their traditional turf. We're just starting to see one of these areas where companies are going to have to start innovating because of this competition. Local search, I think, is going to be a major battleground between Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo!. They're all going to be doing a lot of work.

Nathan Torkington: It's interesting to see that the advertising market that Google and Yahoo created together has been what's fueled this interest in web-based mapping, because it's all coming about out of finding a better way to present local search results to people and let people search the yellow pages of information for places and people that they're interested in, and vendors that they're interested in. So you had Microsoft with TerraServer, their satellite imagery, as a research project for ten years. Didn't know what to do with it, didn't have much of a business model behind it. Then we saw Google integrating their local search with satellite imagery. Now we've got Microsoft going one up and saying, well, I'll see you your satellite imagery, and I'll raise you this pictometry, which is forty-five-degree-angle photographs taken from low-flying planes. So instead of being able to say, oh, look, there are three air conditioners on the top of that building, you actually get a feel for what the building looks like, the resolution is so much greater, you can see indentations and features on the roads and buildings with a lot more clarity than you can from a satellite image. So they're taking that experience one step further.

I think one of the big stories that will come out of the Where 2.0 conference is what Microsoft is doing with Virtual Earth. They're going to show you some things that will blow your mind. I know I was amazed that what they are doing was being done by Microsoft, of all companies.

Chris Spurgeon: Tim, I guess you mentioned it a little bit earlier -- the cell phone is the great portable geo/location   related app, but it's such a closed system. It's horrendously closed for any sort of development, the type of bottom-up hacking that you folks really enjoy and support. Do you see any hope for any common tools, languages, common protocols?

Tim O'Reilly: I do. There's a matter of timing, of course. First of all, the sentiment about closed systems -- the heat is starting to be turned up -- I don't know if you saw Walt Mossberg's column on the subject of "walled gardens" and cell phones. So when the Wall Street Journal starts saying, hey, these guys have their heads in the sand, that tells you there's starting to be more awareness. But from the hacker front, the reason I think the cell phone will not always stay a walled garden -- there's really two reasons. One, and probably the biggest one, is competition that is going to come around from IP telephony. As we get an IP telephony infrastructure, whether it's the installation of Asterisk servers and businesses, or whether it's people using Skype, we're going to have another kind of telephony in the game. As you start to have Wi-fi, and WiMax in particular, spread, people will be able to do telephony without a cell phone. You go, okay, so what, people are going to carry around laptops? No. I think at some point people are going to say, oh, wait, we can introduce an IP telephony device that's portable. The fact is you could have an IP telephony phone. It's not immediate, but it's the same kind of game -- it's AOL versus the Internet 1993 or versus the World Wide Web. I think over the next ten years, the telephony landscape is going to create a lot of pressure on the carriers to figure out interoperability because there is going to be an interoperability option that completely bypasses them. I think we're going to start seeing more and more -- when you think about the big picture of how IP is becoming -- and I mean IP in the sense of internet protocol, not intellectual property -- the foundation for all of our communications infrastructure. IPTV is starting to make inroads. There is going to be an open alternative. What you see right now are people routing around these various gaps in the market. They're figuring out how to do these hacks where they use one device to augment another, or they write an application that effectively cheats -- I also think it's going to be possible for somebody to build innovations even on the cell phone platform. There's no reason why you couldn't do certain things that you encode in the voice calls, for example, for your communications. Some hacker's going to come up with something interesting that will cause trouble for that model.

Chris Spurgeon: Do you see any first steps there? Are there any particular cell phones that are more amenable to hacking, any particular carriers?

Tim O'Reilly: Well, I think some players are starting to think about this. Again, it's a complicated dance because the handset manufacturers are starting to realize this, so you see Nokia with Python on some of their phones, where they're trying to reach out to developers in some interesting new ways. I think the competition is going to come 'round to them from Skype, and that's going to lead to the openness.

Nathan Torkington: The first signs that I see are the rise of people who are hacking their own telephone systems. Brian Aker, who's a MySQL employee, turns out to just love pulling his telephone to pieces with his computer, so he's got things set up with certain things that you can't buy now -- where, unless they're on his approved list, it won't cause his telephone to ring between eleven o'clock at night and six in the morning. So he gets only the most important calls waking him in middle of the night instead of the pranks and wrong numbers that bother us every once in a while. From little things like that all the way up to completely revamping your company's telephone system, I see a lot of pressure coming. I'm calling in right now from an Internet phone at an ISP here in town. It's just amazing, the pressures that are going to be placed upon them. You see, on the handsets right now, people starting to hack with Python and Perl that Nokia has released for their Series 60 phones. I saw somebody had found a way, using Python on the mobile phone, to make Google Maps useful, so suddenly everybody has a navigation system on their Series 60 phone. It's far from the best system that could be built for mobile phones to show a map, because that's a series of hacks to route around brokenness, as Tim said, but it's a positive sign. There's pressure, and it's building, and it's starting to leak around the walls of the garden the carriers have set up. I see hackers being interested in services like T-mobile, where there's no real location-based service you can plug into from your handset. It's not like Nextel where they've got their Qualcomm phones that all have GPS built into them and can find the location of the handset. But in terms of the data model, where you want to send information over the network from your cell phone, T-mobile has an unlimited plan that's extremely affordable, so you're not being penalized for doing interesting things with your phone. That made them very popular with the hackers. I'm using hackers in the positive sense here, not the pejorative.

Tim O'Reilly: The other thing I think is important to realize is the power of visualization. I mentioned Fundrace.org earlier. The ability to use maps as a way to visualize other forms of data or to access them, so map as interface. It's an interesting area. Google Maps started out as just a maps and directions site, but the hacks that you see being built on it are new kinds of functionality, so here's Google Maps plus Chicago Crime Stats, so you can look at a visualization of where crimes are happening. That was just some guy who built it, but that's going to be all over. There's another one that just came by the other day: somebody did a Google Maps mash-up with the location of all the traffic cams in London, so now you can basically -- off your London map -- pick the traffic cam of your choice and get a real-time look at what's happening. We're just at the leading edge of transformative applications in map as interface.

Ben Gross: I'm just curious, aside from Perl and Python, are there any other interesting platforms within a platform that you see people starting to build on?

Tim O'Reilly: This is only on the higher end phones, but Flash on the phone is going to be a real player. I'm on the board of Macromedia, so it's partly on my radar because of that. The deals they've been making with some of the handset manufacturers -- Samsung, Nokia -- there's going to be Flash on hundreds of millions of phones. It's a pretty powerful environment with a small footprint for building interesting interactive applications. Some of the things I've seen, prototypes already, look pretty exciting. It's still in the walled garden of the carriers and applications -- there's still that push me, pull you about which applications do they allow and how do they -- do they try to put a tax on the innovation -- there is a platform that's widely deployed already, that's rich, that there's a substantial developer population who's looking to take advantage of that. I think between Flash and Java on the phones, plus the open source languages, we are starting to have the phone as platform becoming real. I think we're going to see an increase in the number of phones that are effectively programmable over the next few years.

Nathan Torkington: Microsoft is really moving into this area with their SmartPhone initiatives. I think they're only really just starting to get their feet on the ground there. When they wake up and do a Virtual Earth equivalent for the phones, when they have a larger strategy that suddenly says, wow, we can take this, this, and this from our individual properties, and this from research, and suddenly turn out a killer product, they could well change the face of phones. I realize it sounds like the voice of desperation when I say that I'm hoping that hacking will be revolutionized by Microsoft -- I think there's some good hope there. By far, in terms of the people I know who are building interesting applications on phones, I see them doing it either in the Perl and Python that were just released by Nokia, or I see them doing it in Java and simply trying to work around the portability issue. In some cases, they can work around them by saying it only works on this phone, that's the way life goes. So there's an interesting take on portability there, where you say, this is an application developed within Nokia 3650, and it probably won't run on any other phone because of the screen size or the color or the keyboard or whatever particular attributes this application relies on, function in different ways. But we see them building applications and distributing them despite the flaws in the system as it stands, at the moment.

Ben Gross: Like building a website that only runs on IE.

Nathan Torkington: Yeah. For some applications, the client server applications, where there has to be two parties involved in the application, I agree with you. You'll never get the classic friend-finder application that makes your phone vibrate every time you're within range of one of your friends -- even though you can't see them right now, you know to look for them. That kind of application makes no sense if your friend finder only runs on .05 percent of the cell phones in the world. Your friends never all have the same phone that you do. So a lot of applications that rely on that peer-to-peer nature of phones where two parties have to have the same kind of phone, I think is an acceptable solution. I know a lot of companies standardize on a phone, or in the case of the hacking community -- the developer community -- there was a bit wave of Nokia 3650s awhile ago. There's a big wave of Treo 650 phones going around now. The popularity of cellular phones tends to go in waves, and so if you do pick one, you do tend to get most of the early adopters.

Christopher Jablonski: Is there any recognizable intersections with social networking and all this mapping and location-based activity?

Tim O'Reilly: Well, in one sense cell phones are the ultimate social networking tool. If you look at how they've changed behavior. If you're over a certain age, you rarely set an exact time and place for a meeting. You get into the general region, call each other, and eventually converge. It's the smart mob of one or two or three. At large, the whole smart mobs phenomenon -- being able to coordinate a group of people via cell phone -- is a pretty interesting phenomenon, one that's just starting to hit its stride. I don't think we're seeing the last of that.

Nathan Torkington: Definitely. We've actually got a panel on mobile social applications. If you look at some of the interesting ones that are out there right now, you see, for instance, dodgeball, which Google just acquired, and their premise is you let dodgeball know where you are, and dodgeball tells your friends. So you say, oh, I'm at the pub on Third and Eleventh at the moment, we'll let everybody know, and if your friends nearby want to hook up for a beer, well, they can just swing on by. That's geared to a particular type of person. The person in a confined, urban area where there's a lot of similar friends likely to be nearby, and who's interested in socializing.

One of the panelists, Elizabeth Goodman from Intel, has interesting views on social networking, that it all seems to be designed around people wanting to make more friends or find more friends, at the online social networking, any rate, and that, in a lot of cases, that isn't really what people want to do. Most people have enough friends, thank you very much. It's a matter of navigating the world using the people that you know as landmarks, as one interesting type, so she came up with Familiar Stranger project -- she and Eric Paulos worked on that -- Familiar Stranger says there are people that I travel with or am around all the time, and I don't know them, I don't speak to them, but we share the same subway on the way to work, or when I go to the coffee store at eleven o'clock, they're always at the coffee store at eleven o'clock, so it can be a form of location sensing. Oh, I'm around this particular person. I see their cell phone is on, therefore, I know that I'm in the coffee shop. Or it can be used to make social networks -- remind you of things -- there are all sorts of applications based around not actually closing the loop and having to introduce yourself to them. Simply using them as a landmark in your life. We see a lot of people trying to build social networks around wi-fi base stations. So, for instance, internet cafes and the PlaceSite project in Berkeley. Sean Savage, who first documented the Flash Mob phenomenon on his blog, will be speaking at the conference about the PlaceSite project, which builds a community around a wi-fi access point. So all the people who use coffee shop can leave messages for one another, talk about what's going on in the neighborhood, rendezvous for events, that kind of stuff. So we're seeing commercial and research simply for fun projects built around this kind of activity: let's find a place where people congregate around their computers or with their cell phones and see if we can build a social event out of that.

Tim O'Reilly: I would add, when Google acquired Keyhole, everybody said, gee, I wonder what they're going to do. And as they introduced new features, it became clear that they had a pretty big vision. The fact that they acquired dodgeball probably suggests we'll get to see some interesting things coming from Google in the cell phone based social networking space.

Chris Spurgeon: Well, one thing I noticed time and time again, whenever I see any sort of mention of something that could fall under this "where" term, "when" is always right around the corner. I'm curious if you see anything on the horizon for any sort of standardization or more use of stuff that has to do with time, and the combination of time with location, like this bar is open during these hours, but I'm in this time zone, so I have to take that into account. Those types of combinations.

Tim O'Reilly: Yeah, there are a couple of things. First of all, opening hours is definitely one of the most requested things in local search. People want to find out where something is and when it's open. That is not lost on the various players in the local search game. I've seen a bunch of things; I don't know which ones are still under NDA, so all I can say is, yes, there's a lot of focus on that problem.

Chris Spurgeon: If a company appeared, it would be the "when" equivalent of NAVTEQ. I bet they could do pretty well.

Tim O'Reilly: Yeah. There's definitely some work being done in that area that's pretty interesting. The other thing that's related to that is events. You guys have probably heard about EVDB. That's Brian Dear's project that's sort of based conceptually on CDDB. It's sort of a user-contributed events database. Brian recently got funded by a number of VCs, also Pierre Omidyar who's interested in all social networking, as an investor. He was an investor in Meetup, so he sees EVDB as a related interesting project. It's still in early stages, but I think this whole idea of building a collaborative database around events is going to become an interesting play.

Nathan Torkington: I just confirmed Ramesh Jain from the University of California, Irvine to talk at Where as well. He's building a very interesting system based around events using time as one method of organizing, but location as well. So you collect multiple media around a particular event, and then it lets you view it, find other things that are nearby. He's got an interesting conceptual view, bigger than -- built on top of, in some ways, events databases like EVDB, which are trying to be the Intel inside, I guess. Ramesh is looking at building the internet portal around it, and he'll be there. He's a very interesting character. There's also upcoming.org by Andy Baio, a very talented hacker, which is another one to look at. There's a lot of interest recently in calendaring and managing the flow of appointments and events that are going on in the world. It's interesting to watch people suddenly get a hold of -- the social network was the big thing a year or two ago, and now we're all starting to realize location is everywhere in the data around us, we just didn't have a way to use it before. But now the geospatial techniques that used to be the province of the GIS world and now within the grasp of everyday hackers. So you see everybody starting to build location interfaces, location databases, to extract that location and work with it. I think the time is definitely going to be the next one, but we're still in the early stages of that.

Ryan Singel: Hi. There's been a lot of talk about the promise of location-based services. There's also some questions about perils, and seems to be things that have to be thought about upfront, things like privacy, security, national security. Are those issues that people are starting to think about?

Nathan Torkington: Definitely. I've talked to a couple carriers, and they've all said that privacy is one of the big hurdles they have to overcome before they can roll out any location-based service. It's one of the reasons a lot of carriers use for requiring applications to access the location interface on the phone to be vetted before they can be deployed. They want to review the code and make sure that you're not using nefarious reporting of your spouse's handset location to track them for infidelity, or whatever the particular bugging application might be. There's a lot of concern about privacy, and it's interesting that the privacy issues are different, as they've always been, for general public if you're creating a product that you hope to sell to Joe/Jane consumer, is different from the privacy issues if you're creating an enterprise application. I can track my employees and abuse my knowledge of their location almost without fear of legal recourse for the employee. It's surprising how different those applications and the laws around them are. Of course there are people worried about privacy around location because it's such a direct correlation to physical violence and danger that there's not around, oh, I'm going to leak your internet address, your email address -- that's completely different than leaking your real world address. People can come around and do real world bad things instead of simply sending you a lot of spam. We do have a privacy panel at the conference to address that. We also have a startup called uLocate who went through several iterations trying to build their business model and business. They started off offering a location-based service that was cheap and aimed at individuals to make what they would of it. They found particular applications that people returned to again and again. They saw what worked and what didn't, because after all, you can sit on your butt and theorize about what things the people want, but until you give them the tools and they choose, you don't really know what the market wants. By creating this tiny market of a couple hundred customers, seeing what they did, they could say, oh, well this is obviously a concept that has a lot of traction. We should build this into a product, and then they went through the startup stages of developing the software, working with the carriers, trying to evaluate different technological solutions to their problems and figure out what would make the customers happy, given that they'd identified this need. So they're going to be speaking about that, the different hurdles that they went through in their startup phase. I agree -- we hear a lot of talk about opportunities and not as much talk about the pitfalls, and I certainly do want to air those pitfalls at the conference.

Question: I know the Mapping Hacks book is coming out soon. Any other books on the horizon?

Tim O'Reilly: Yeah, we have one called "Web Mapping Illustrated." That's actually a book that, internally, we used to call the "Fundrace" book. I kept saying I wanted a book that tells people how to do the things that Fundrace did, how to integrate databases and maps and do data visualization against maps. It's about a lot of the techniques you can use in terms of using open data, various kinds of open data sources, open GIS standards, whatever, to build your own mapping services, public interest, if you like. The editor we have on staff, Simon St. Laurent is very interested in this area. He's doing election maps for his local elections and things like that. It's just about trying to democratize that technology for data visualization against mapping interface. I believe it's in production, so I would guess it will ship in the next couple months.

Suzanne Axtell: Nat, are there any other highlights from the conference? Speakers or sessions you want to talk about?

Nathan Torkington: We just confirmed Stephen Randall who's a founder of Symbian, which is one of the leading operating systems underneath the cell phones that you have. He also invented the world's first digital guitar, so he's sort of a serial entrepreneur in many different forms. He's got a great take on mobile marketing that I'm looking forward to hearing him expound on, which is that it's not about spamming your phone from across town, saying hey, drive two hours and come visit our store, we've got a great sale going on -- it's about connecting with users where they happen to be and making a service that's useful to them. One of the expressions of that is his new company where they're connecting cell phones to the televisions that are spreading all around stores and in airports. I think the largest physical television network in the country is run by Wal-Mart. They're working to get these televisions networked. If you can send an SMS to it from your cell phone, you can reply to advertisements, you can turn a television into a blog, where you leave messages for people who are coming -- hey, look around the corner, there's a great parking place that's not metered. You can leave interesting messages about the location. A lot of cool ideas are coming out of merging two previously disconnected systems. I'm really looking forward to what he says because with his background, it's bound to be gold.

Suzanne Axtell: Is there any news on the Where Fair front?

Nathan Torkington: Yep. The Where Fair is like a science fair meets poster session with a bar. You get to mingle around, see the different people who created the applications -- they'll have demos of them running -- where you can ask them: how did you do it, why did you do it, what will you be doing next, how did this work, how can I use this in my own business? It's a mingling opportunity as well as a demo opportunity.

We're filling the holes with plenty of hackers. We've got the people who are building systems -- you call them entrepreneurs, although I don't know whether they think of themselves as that. They're building interesting applications either on top of Google Maps or off their own bat, and showing some of the new cool stuff that they've been working on. So hopefully there'll be people that you've seen before, showing something new, and people that you haven't seen before.

Tin O'Reilly: I think it's also an interesting chance to meet some of these guys who've been driving the innovation. They're from far flung places; for example, one of the key guys who decrypted the arcane structure of the Google Maps interface and did the foundational technology that's enabled all the other hacks is from New Zealand, coming over for the conference.

Nathan Torkington: Philip Lindsay is his name. He runs the rancidbacon web site, where all of this was first documented, and it was on his shoulders, pretty much, that all of the Google Maps mash-ups happened. We have Paul Rademacher who did the Google Maps-Craigslist mash up. He and Greg Sadetsky , who did the Google Maps-Yahoo Traffic mash-up, will present on what was easy, what was hard, what they're looking for in the next federation of services to make it even easier.

Tim O'Reilly: Right, and of course, I think we have some interest from Google and Yahoo! in spending some time with these guys to figure out how they start making this stuff not a hacker add-on, but really core to the offerings.

Nathan Torkington: Yeah, we started to see -- in the Google factory tour, for instance -- the Google Mapping people quoted as saying that they're looking how to make this into a real API that's more easily built upon than what is there right now. It's amazing the amount of juice that there's been around Google Maps, given just how difficult it really is to build an application on top of it. There must be some incredible pent up demand for the hackers to go through the convolutions that they've had to go through.

Suzanne: Thanks everyone for participating.

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