GeoWorld September 2012

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Industry Trends of us (except those lucky few) have a friend or family mem- ber who just "got" Twitter and now blankets every facet of our social-media existence with lame retweets or sad jokes. Technology has finally become the great democra- tizer, where everyone can add their two cents. From Google to Flickr to Pinterest, the last decade has seen the emergence and integration of myriad services designed to organize and present information in such a way that filters out what we personally con- sider "noise," allowing users to engage only with what they consider to be the most-pertinent content. Google went a step further than most when it tailored search results by geographic information. Although machines are wonderful aggregators of data, they do a poor job of evaluating and curating the content. Effective content curators have always been behind the success of media sources in the past; we just knew them by a different name: editors. As the sheer volume of information created and transmitted by humans and machines increases daily, the role of the content curator becomes ever-more important. Collaborative GeoBrowsing The most-powerful supercomputers in the world, such as Blue Gene, don't achieve their incredible process- ing speeds by being constructed around larger, single processors. Rather, they rely on cleverly networking vast numbers of small, low-power chips. These chips are inexpensive, highly energy efficient and readily available in great numbers. Similarly, cutting-edge social-mapping technologies have begun to leverage the power of networked people to create, solve, curate and lead. Like Blue Gene's chips, these users are highly efficient and available in great number; however, they're also each powerful problem solvers and active agents. Until now, attempts at social mapping have felt like navigating MySpace in the early 2000s, with users being hindered by existing technology. Foursquare upped the ante with its eponymous location-based social platform, but now applications such as CloverPoint's MapSocial unite leading-edge social-mapping technolo- gies for a seamless user experience. How many adventure-movie heroes risk their lives for the tattered map itself? It's what the "X" means that's ever-intriguing, and we all have our "X's" to share. In fact, people construct communities around them: "this is the best fishing spot," "there is gold here," "this nightclub has no cover charge for geologists," and so on. MapSocial is more than just mapping software: it's the foundation upon which users are constructing a new way to share spatial information; it's a geobrowser built strong enough to harness the power of mas- sive user confluence and deliver it back as crisp and coherent pictures. In addition to the clean user inter- face, MapSocial combines the mapping technology of OpenStreetMap (and others) with the location data of Foursquare and Facebook. It also "speaks" JSON, GeoJSON, HTML5, mysql and javascript, raising the bar for mapping, search, augmented reality and gaming. The last decade witnessed the emergence of the "user" as the creator and curator of content; recently the user has become the content. Increasing user engagement with location-enabled devices blurs the line between "user" and "content," as users geo- browse using real contextual information. Collaborative geobrowsers such as MapSocial allow users to "explore the world and share the experience." 28 GEO WO RLD / SEPTEMBER 2O12 New Reality: Very Real Peoples' interactions with technology and the gadgets themselves are changing. Smarter phones with simpler user interfaces have allowed the least technically adept to fully engage online, making the choice between leav- ing the house or staying online no longer applicable. However, as anyone who has texted while driving knows (Editor's Note: Don't do that.), there's still a disconnection between online and real worlds. Augmented Reality (AR), far more than a marketing buzzword, takes this a step further by simultaneously connecting user interaction with the Internet and the real world. Although most current AR technologies are limited to a smartphone-mediated interface (via camera and near-field or quick-response (QR) tag mark- ers), the release of soon-to-market wearable interfaces (notably Google's Project Glass and Oakley's similar offering) will facilitate a true integration of the online experience with the "real" world. Just as hypertext preprocessor code moved Web-site architecture out of the specialist's realm, leaving the func- tionality accessible to everyday users, location-enabled AR technology that doesn't rely on markers will open the way to everyone's augmented experience of New Reality. CloverPoint's New Reality platform, for example, puts the brains behind the glasses. The framework

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