jueves, 30 de agosto de 2012

Review for O'Reilly's "Where Conference 2012: The Business of Location: Complete Video Compilation"

11:21 by Rafael Flores · 0 comentarios

I know, I know: I am late. By the time I've written this post most of the stuff shown at O'Reilly's Where Conference (OWC from now on for short) will be well known... Or not? This maaaaaaaasive video collection boasts for almost 47 hours of pure knowledge. Want to know about Location? This is the place!

123 videos will cover each and every aspect of using Location technologies in any software application (mobile - mostly - or not): from the basics of library and APIs usage to the usage of the location capabilities to reach your market and sell more.

I have to admit that so far I haven't been able to see all the videos... that's a  huge task! Having become first-time father lately it's a bit difficult for me to find those times when I could just relax and watch technical videos 100% focused on them :) However, given the numerous different videos and their length, there's always some moments one can find.

IMHO, the compilation is very very good. Is as close as one can get to physically being there (oh, and by the way, I'd love to!). The technical quality of the videos is very good: lighting, sound, camera focus, etc. are great. And the guys know their business: most (though not all, we are humans after all) f the public's questions are repeated by the speakers on the mic, so we (the ones on this side of the screen) can understand them clearly. So, this aspect gets 5 starts from me.

Now, to the proper content itself. It's soooo varied (even though all the talks are related to using Location in software) that it's somehow difficult to give it a unique rating. Some of the videos are great (like "Putting Place in Social, Putting Social in It's place" from the Google folks, or "Prototyping Location Apps With Big Data" by Matt Biddulph), whilst others just don't make the mark (the PhoneGap's talks, the guy from Dwolla -again, the chap is more ubiquous than Google :D-, the lady from Paypal - pure marketing *cough*!, etc.).

These are some of my notes on a bunch of videos:
Native vs HTML5 & an Argument to Incorporate Both - Bo Fishback and Eric Koester
Folks from Zaarly talk about their progress from Html5 to native... With some bits of html. It depends on the funnels of user acquisition, the response is not (in most cases) as good in HTML5 as others. They've used their web site to test new User eXperience tricks, that if tested ok would make it to their native apps.
So, their point is: take as much as possible from both worlds!

The New Age of Interactive Marketing: Creating One to One Relationships with Mobile - Dorrian Porter
Dorrian Porter from Mozes, Inc gives the marketing company view on how the new technologies (smart-located devices) can help marketing companies fill up our life with personalized "just for you" ads... Nothing very new here, but somehow scared me as to how much they'll be able to flood us with marketing :)

Hey Startups, SoLoMoCo is No Longer 'Emerging'. Stop Acting Like It Is - Mike Schneider
Mike Schneider, @ScheinderMike -talking perhaps a bit "as if in a hurry" although maybe it was fine since the talk was early morning- gives a very "felt" talk on how startups should use SoLoMoCo to get profile data, since that is what can and has to be sold to marketers! I agree, it's no longer of interest to know how many users you have, but how they are, and that's where SoLoMoCo really can help, startups must have as best APIs to provide that data as possible, and that's a great value.  Another great advice: don't go for check ins, go for natural flow and get the data from it.

HTML5: Advanced data visualization with Google Maps API - Josh Livni and Brendan Kenny
Josh Livni and Brendan Kenny from Google show some code! How to use WebGL to benefit using graphics cards from HTML5 to be able to present a big amount of data in a very fast and interactive way. They expose some very interesting examples on top of maps, along with some tricks to load data. A bit long but interesting video.
Note: this doesn't apply on mobile, though... It runs, but at 4fps... 
A Deep Dive Into Using The HTML5 GeoLocation API with PhoneGap - Steven Gill 
Well, to be honest I believe those two videos are very poor, I expected much more. They provide very few content on using the mapping API with PhoneGap. Luckily there's very good content of the subject that can be found in the web.

Hunch Global: Mining and Visualizing the Local Search Taste Graph - Harold Cooper 
Well, this is a very interesting talk. Pity it just shows what Hunch can achieve but doesn't get into what's behind (hard, soft, platforms...). But makes a very good point showing that Location is the "core" and user's preferences the "engine" that runs Hunch.
Prototyping Location Apps With Big Data - Matt Biddulph
Tries to show how to incorporate data analysis with Hadoop and Pig into any aplication. It gets to the point of it, but becomes a bit too "intense": good for the ones that can follow the talk (knowledgeable on AWS, Hadoop, Pig...), but the rest (I include myself) can get lost on the way.
Building Imaginary Worlds: SketchUp and Custom Street View - Mano Marks and Adam Hecht
Didn't like this one too much...  They talk about Google SketchUp, the tool they use to create 3D models (for example to be used in Google Earth), how to model a warehouse, etc. Given that this has nothing to do (directly) with location, seems like free marketing stuff for Google...
Case Study Paypal - Elena Krasnoperova
Focused on mobile location payment. She shows some apps using Paypal as payment platform, like  Toysrus. But not a single detail on how it's done, or best uses or anything interesting for that matter. And then some "show off" of their new payment app...  that  is said to geolocate surrounding merchants... Not worth watching, tbh.

Putting Place in Social, Putting Social in It's place - Mano Marks Google, Julia Ferraioli, Google
This is a very good talk on Google+ and Google Maps. How to get geolocated data from any Google+ profile, clustering or segmentation, why and how use GPS data via web (PC) is less accurate than GPS device, etc. They show very basic Javascript embedding of the GoogleMaps API. Also the use of the Google+ Platform: Public data API, RESTful calls giving JSON answers; key based or Oauth2. They carry on with their definition of an Activity (user's action). The Google+ Developers site has all the info available. They also show some Plugins (with a brief "free-promo" on Google+ buttons...) and how to use Google Hangouts: some promo on the hangouts and then show a Hangout App done in HTML/CSS/JavaScript.

Data and algorithm driven commerce - Mok Oh , Paypal
Unexpectedly nice talk. Mok shows that Data + Science&Algorithms is the way to go. Funny statement he makes: "Data, data, Everywhere…. but not a byte to eat". The figures are massive: there are 200 Million online transactions per month on Internet, and that's increasing.
He doesn't focus on location at the beginning, till he shows some demos: watching black friday on a map of US online transactions is a real flash! :D He shows as well a globe with dynamic Paypal transactions through the world, very interesting.
For Mok, Data Science is still on v. 1.5, neither 1.0 (that is the analysis and algorithm phase),  nor the 2.0 (the would-be big boom-social)
Basically states that DATA is VALUABLE, is one of your company's values. And invest in a data scientist is a necessity.

New Lines on the horizon - Josh Williams, Facebook
Josh shows how location evolved in the Facebook platform. First location was a tag that you could add to anything in FB. Now it's been added to their OpenGraph and TimeLine features. Given that they say to get 2 billion monthly locations, seems logical.
He mentions that FB plans to augment their OpenGraph, Place editing API and geo-coding and reverse geo-coding capabilities in the near term.
How open is open? Five years later…. - Ian White, Urban Mapping Inc
Well, Ian explains the whole history about his legal issues getting location data of the NY Underground… My God, it's somehow hard to believe nowadays that those things happened... and still do in some places (yes, some european places I mean).
Then he explains interesting examples of strange privatization process of public data: all public data that is given to private companies to be made publicly available... only to become privatized in some way so developers (or others) have to pay to use them. Ian resumes the "Privatization of public data": there are two ways to be open, one like "open sesame", open door, etc. vs. open as a clinched fist.

Platform, APIs and Apps: Building the "where" ecosystem - Gary Gale, Nokia
This talk is a must watch. Nokia believes completely that Location is a must. And people has many devices, so the need multiplies by a factor. The use of location data is to identify patterns and trends: know your customers/users.
Nokia has created what they call "The Where platform": one of the biggest assets of Nokia; and why this video is worth watching.

Reference Data + Activity Data = Smart Data
The Where Platform has lots of API, already available. In Q1 2012 they had 4.6 Billion hits per month! Their commitment is that they can provide their mapping and location services on all kinds of screens: HTML5 is the solution.
Some customers of their platform:

The Places API has already over 75 million places registered, and can be used straight away as a Web Service!
All the info can be found at developer.nokia.com/maps

StreetEasy's Stack - Sebastian Delmont, StreetEasy.com
StreetEasy is a real estate search service for NY, with 22M+ views per month…
Sebastian gets into the details of how they migrated their infrastructure from GoogleMaps to OpenStreetMaps. How they created their own maps, very interesting if looking for ways to create your own maps with OpenStreetMaps platform: TileMill, MapBox,… One key giveaway: you must use an abstraction layer, for example Mapstraction on the Javascript side or some abstraction layer on the server side.

Uber's Stack - Curtis Chambers, Uber
Uber is an on demand transportation service. Curtis details how to architect a location-based web service: mongo, node.js, phyton, javascript… 

Twitter's Stack - Raffi Krikorian, Twitter
Geolocated tweets, geolocated POIs in the US… Very complex and fast explanation of (just) the infrastructure that supports RockDove: the service inside Twitter that deals with all location data: RubyOnRails, Cassandra, Lucene……

GeoIQ's Stack - Andrew Turner, GeoIQ CTO
Try to solve three things: how to Acces, Visualize and Analyze data.
They support a platform called geocommons.com that anybody can use. It's a VM that can scale up to Cloud as needed. Another really complete and powerful stack: RubyonRails for the core platform spatial data ETL, Lucene and Solr for index, PostgreSQL for spatial data management, Mapnik for map rendering, Modestmaps and Polymaps for front end, AcctionScript and Appcelerator for mobile, Node.js and MongoDB for streaming, workers Ruby and OpenSource GeoStack, and Hadoop in some cases.
OpenStandards: REST; GeoJSON; OAuth, LDAP, OpenSearch-Geo…


Gaming Reality - Will Wright, Stupid Fun Club
This guy worked on SimCity! :D
Games use maps-location, but also it could use the player's locations to focus on the player. 
A smartphone is like Star Trek's tricorder, haha!! Will tries to expose the way from "augmented reality" to "blended reality", where geolocation is a must. 
Nice touch as well by showing some Startups in the "Startups showcases". Some where a bit basic (at least what they exposed) but others where interesting. I'm curious to see what they can become in the future (close one, hopefully! :).

If you, like me, think that Location-based services, apps and software are one of the "next big things" in IT, this video compilation will have your mind flooded with ideas and knowledge so you'll get excited to use it in your next project.

Note: found some minor issues with the links though, some links to download videos wrongly pointed to other videos instead. Maybe O'Reilly folks can double check the links on the product's page ;) Thanks!

Note2: You can find most of the presentations' slides and some of the Videos available for free here: http://whereconf.com/where2012/public/schedule/proceedings

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