Yesterday's FT had a piece about mapping as an interface to the web. This is one view on why this change is important:
Erik Jorgensen, a senior executive in Microsoft’s online operations, says the software company is building a “digital representation of the globe to a high degree of accuracy” that will bring about “a change in how you think about the internet”. He adds: “We’re very much betting on a paradigm shift. We believe it will be a way that people can socialise, shop and share information.” 'Way to Go? Mapping to be the Web's next Big Thing', Financial Times, 21 May 08Google, Nokia and others are investing in parallel projects. The article speculates that controlling the geo-interface may put one company in a dominant position. But perhaps that will not happen, in part because their is an open source foundation under construction in OpenStreetMap, Its coverage is improving in Wikipedian fashion (getting better all the time). The current view of Florence is good on the railways and autostrada, but lacking in detail.
As it happens we have started adding geo-tags to our data this week (so we can now render as live links, post codes mentioned in text or advertisements). We will blog about this shortly. As a side note: one guesses that geo-coding will become important to us all for one reason not mentioned in the FT's article yesterday. But headline news on the front page. Oil goes to $135 a barrel. It is not really a paradox to suggest that we may care more about exactly where we are, as we learn to travel less.