Mike Liebhold

Institute for the Future

The Geospatial Web
28 minutes, 12.9mb, recorded 2006-07-13
Mike Liebhold

The first-generation Internet and Web generated a huge amount of economic energy, and so will a Geospatial Web. While it is interesting to entertain ideas of early financial returns from geospatial web services, Mike Liebhold cautions that we all need to take a deep breath and to perform a sober and unhyped assessment of where we are, and what we still need to do to enjoy the economic and creative benefits of a Geospatial Web.

"Imagine as you walk through the world that you can see layers of information draped across the physical relaity, or that you see the annotations that people have left at a place describing the attributes of that place!"

Liebhold believes that this will be an inevitable feature of the Geospatial Web. But there's a lot of work to be done in order to get there. In this presentation, from the 2006 O'Reilly Where2.0 Conference, Mike Liebhold makes a case to overcome the remaining political, financial, and technological hurdles in order to make ubiquitous geospatial web services a reality.

He discusses several of the research projects that are currently in the works and some of the returns that we might expect. He makes a call to action for content producers - both private and governmental organizations - to geocode their data and to make it available to users. He also calls upon device manufacturers and communication networks to create useful and open APIs for their location data. Finally, he touches on some of the problems we might expect as the Geospatial Web becomes a reality, including location privacy, geospatial spam, identity management, and, ultimately, geospatial literacy.


Mike Liebhold is currently a senior researcher for the Institute for the Future (IFTF), focusing on the implications and technologies of a geospatial web. He serves as an advisor to a web mapping startup, platial.com, and is loosely affiliated with an informal international network of geospatial hackers and artists.

Previously, Liebhold was a visiting researcher at Intel Labs, working on a pattern language for ubiquitous computing based on semantic web frameworks.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, as a senior scientist at Apple's Advanced Technology Labs, Liebhold led the Terraform project - an investigation of cartographic and location-based hypermedia - and the launch of strategic partnerships with National Geographic, Lucasfilm, Disney, MIT, AT&T Bell Labs, and others. Liebhold then served for three years as chief technology officer for Times Mirror publishing. Following TM, Liebhold worked for two years as a senior consulting architect at Netscape.

During the late 1990s, Liebhold worked on startups building large-scale international public IT services and IP networks for rural regions in China, India, Europe, and Latin America.

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