W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-geolocation@w3.org > June 2008

Re: what is a position?

From: Charles McCathieNevile <chaals@opera.com>
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2008 00:14:46 +0200
To: "Erik Wilde" <dret@berkeley.edu>, public-geolocation@w3.org
Message-ID: <op.udbr2wbwwxe0ny@widsith.local>

On Sun, 22 Jun 2008 03:47:20 +0200, Erik Wilde <dret@berkeley.edu> wrote:

> while i am not a huge fan of the current draft, i think the idea of  
> representing locations as URIs is a good and obvious one.
> one scenario: i am traveling and would like to avoid leaving an exact  
> GPS location trail. so i set my mobile device to say that i am in (and  
> this is completely made up) geo:usgs.gov/states/CA and all i am saying  
> with that is that i am in california. privacy-wise, this lets me choose  
> how much i want to disclose, and it still allows me to get localized  
> results.

Indeed. Most of the work I have done on geo systems has been in the  
context of global travel - the applications are far more tied to "who  
lives here, and what are the top 10 sights or events in this city that are  
interesting to me than they are to the "where is the nearest open bart"  
level of detail.

So the scheme I came up with (which is now reasonably common amongst at  
least the FOAF world) is "nearest airport". This is easily represented as  
a particular HTTP-based namespace, and it is quite trivial to set up a  
system that for a given airport actually returns useful data in some form  
or other - indeed people have been doing this for years.

It's a scheme where the user essentially identifies a fairly vague piece  
of information, that happens to make sense to a large number of people and  
things they are interested in, although for example it's not  
straightforwardly obvious how to make a neat user interface for something  
that has maps as its underlying premise of how people think about location.

Interestingly, many years later, this is pretty much the concept  
underlying dopplr.com, which includes a bunch of people who have thought  
hard for many years about this kind of issue. Places like the Geowanking  
list have hosted discussions along these lines for 5 years, and they were  
often old ideas then: http://lists.burri.to/pipermail/geowanking

> i don't want to engage in detailed discussions around how such a scheme  
> could or should be designed, who is responsible for managing the  
> "namespaces", and how all of that would fit into a more location-aware  
> web (or at least that should go into a different thread). but i would be  
> interested in feedback about that scenario, and how exactly this idea of  
> "privacy-friendly locations" could be supported.

I think that there needs to be a fairly rich concept of "position". I  
often (but not always) tell the entire world where I am in terms of  
nearest airport. I am loath to tell more than a small handful of people  
any more detail. Basically, there are a number of useful schemes - I am  
not often personally interested in one based on "states" (by which I mean  
political boundaries on a scale of tens to hundreds of km across with some  
falling outside that range), but there are plenty of use cases for such a  
thing. Likewise there are plenty of locations which are based on defined  
physical things in the world - although often the edges are quite fuzzy.

Just some old ideas getting an airing...



Charles McCathieNevile  Opera Software, Standards Group
     je parle français -- hablo español -- jeg lærer norsk
http://my.opera.com/chaals   Try Opera 9.5: http://snapshot.opera.com
Received on Wednesday, 25 June 2008 22:15:58 UTC

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