Friday, August 22, 2008

Rico Simpkins, REI, - Web 2.0 Mapping and Social Networking

Today I saw a news release explaining Recreational Equipment Inc. initiative to encourage Web 2.0 mapping and Social Networking for their customers. I found a YouTube video with Rico Simpkins explaining the development of this program. YouTube provides an easy way to include this in my Blog, so I am sending this now.

I intend to find out more about this project. There are many ways I can think of that this program could be expanded to environmental, recreation, education and scientific groups in Idaho for example, but other places all over the country.

I will write more detail about how this can work soon. Meanwhile I intend to contact REI to find out more.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Place and Time Knowledge Networking

Over the past few months I have been somewhat inundated by information and news that I feel I should be writing about and sharing with people who read this blog. For awhile, I am going to try to narrow down future topics in an attempt to develop a more consolidated view of how I believe "Place and Time Knowledge Networking" should become more important to individuals, groups and communities who have an interest in the past present and future of special geographic "places" or locations they care about. I wrote an earlier blog post on this topic on September 07, 2007.

One excellent reference on these topics I noted in that post is the book titled, "The Geospatial Web" - How Geobrowsers, Social Software and the Web 2.0 are Shaping the Networked Society. This link goes to a web site where an Introduction, Table of Contents, Bibliography, Contributors and an Acknowledgment. A link to a "Sample Chapter" is also provided.

Another reference I made in that earlier post was to interesting presentations at the GeoWeb 2007 Conference and available on the web site.

Now. a year later the GeoWeb 2008 Conference has just concluded. Keynote and invited speaker podcasts will be available online and the entire proceedings are available for sale.

On his Blog on August 1, 2008, Ron Lake, CEO, of Galdos Systems, Inc., the GeoWeb conference organizer, wrote a post titled - "GeoWeb and the State of the World." I will quote a few sentences from this post and make some of my own interpretive comments below.

"One of the most pressing issues facing our planet is of course climate change and its close sister ecological decline. In order to act on these issues we need to come (more or less globally) to an agreement on the “state” of the world....The important issue for me is simply that we are seeking in this discussion to express something akin to the “state” of a system, in this case the state of the world climate or world ecosystem, although many other system states are of interest."

I believe it is clear that these other system states Lake alludes to could include smaller areas or system states like a distinct ecosystem, a watershed, a wilderness area, and perhaps even man made boundaried systems like states, counties, and cities, or conservation areas like a wildlife refuge or wildlife corridors, a river restoration project, or even a precise geographic location where a a single remote sensor is gathering information.

Lake also notes that it is interesting to note that the use of the word "we" implies that “we need to come to an agreement on the state of the world.” In my mind the "we" word clearly implies that citizens should be involved in learning about system states that affect them, and also should be involved more in future decision making processes. This requires that all possible knowledge about a place or a system has to be made available and networking opportunities need to become more widespread for people to become involved in places and systems they care about.

Regarding knowledge, Lake's thinking is that the GeoWeb will evolve in a different way than the conventional web as we know it now. Instead of finding a large amount of data represented by web pages and documents when we do a search he believes the data we receive "must be organized with respect to space and time." I believe this means that we should be able to find all the available information about a place or system of interest that has taken place over time. An overview of discussions about the "Semantic Web" will help reveal how this is becoming possible now and will become even stronger in the next few years. (There is a lot of new information about the Semantic Web that I will try to add later, but I have written several posts about it in the past.)

Lake also mentions "what one might call “GeoPresence". Again I believe that this word can be used to indicate that potentially any identified geographic location will have associated space and time knowledge that could be made available via a Semantic Search to anyone interested in the past history, current status, or future decisions that might be made about that location. A major advantage that is promised by a Semantic Web Search is that the information about data and authors will become much more accurate, reliable, and dependable over time because everything will continually be rated by experts and by many Internet users.

Lake concludes the post with this thought. "GeoWeb is not just a fusion of the Web and Geo-technology. It is response to an unmet need in our society to know and express the state of the world. This part of the journey has hardly started."

In another post soon, I intend to give an example of the valuable Geographically local knowledge contained in community newspaper archives, especially those that have been in existence for many decades or a hundred or more years. Much of this knowledge could be made more openly available to the GeoWeb in the near future.