Building Tricorders

by Daniel H. Steinberg

We're featuring four sessions from the first day of the Where 2.0 conference. Josh Peterson tells you to live your life as if you're on vacation; Mike Liebhold looks at a future in which the invisible annotations on the world around you become visible; Schuler Erle demos Gutenkarte, which reveals geographic information in the books you read; and Lauren Gelman cautions us about the privacy issues in exposing our data. (DTF 06-26-2006: 26 minutes, 15 seconds)

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Distributing the Future June 26, 2006: "Building Tricorders"

1:00 Room Travel

Consider the mindset you have when you travel. You stand in the middle of the street to take the perfect picture of some building that catches your eye. You sample restaurants you might not otherwise try. You ask people you might not ordinarily talk to about their town. Josh Peterson of 43 Places says the secret is to live life like you are on vacation. (3:40)

4:40 Supporting the Tricorder

Mike Liebhold from the Institute for the Future hopes we are building the platform for a tricorder--that Star Trek device that allows you to ask about whatever location you've been beamed to. He wants to build a geospatial web. (10:50)

15:30 Where Are You Reading Now?

Schuyler Erle is working with MetaCarta on APIs and products. He demonstrated the Gutenkarte project, which allows you to place text in the books you are reading in a geographic context. They have a product that parses text for geographic content. For Erle, however, what enables these cool products are APIs on top of open source data. (4:30)

20:00 Privacy

What are you telling others about yourself that you might not want to? Who is keeping that data? What are they willing to do to protect you? In one sense, the privacy issues on the Web are no different than they ever were in our physical world--but as Stanford Law School's Lauren Gelman explains, we need to understand what the rules are in the platforms on which we are building and playing. (5:30)

Total running time: 26:15

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Production Notes

The initial montage is from Tim O'Reilly, recorded at OSCON '04 and in a phone interview with Doug Kaye of IT Conversations, and is used with permission. "The future is here, it's just not evenly distributed yet" is a quote from author William Gibson that Tim used with attribution.

The credits, including special thanks to David Battino for composing and performing the theme music. David can be found at and also edits O'Reilly's Digital Audio site. David provided a lot of help and feedback getting this program launched. We used Soundtrack Pro, Bias Peak, and Audio Hijack Pro to put it together.

Daniel H. Steinberg is the editor for the new series of Mac Developer titles for the Pragmatic Programmers. He writes feature articles for Apple's ADC web site and is a regular contributor to Mac Devcenter. He has presented at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, MacWorld, MacHack and other Mac developer conferences.

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