We have a very cool new site design that's slowly rolling out this week at outside.in (along with an entirely new database architecture and other back-end refinements), and given that it's almost exactly a year since we launched the original prototype, I thought it was about time I tried to write out some of my thinking about the geographic web as it has evolved over that time. So I've written a little essay called "The Pothole Paradox: Why Building The Geographic Web Is Hard, and Why It's Worth Doing":
The idea of requiring geographic metadata for information might strike some people as excessive, but I suspect in a few years we will look back at the first decade of the web and be amazed that we went for so long without it. Think about it this way: both email and the Web depend on standardized location information embedded in every document -- we call them email and Web "addresses" for a reason. It's a virtual location, of course, but without that universally recognized location data, the last fifteen years of online innovation would have never happened.
We are also increasingly standardizing metadata for time. One of the things that is not commonly said about the blogging revolution is that it has introduced machine-readable time stamps for billions of web pages. One of the things that made Blogger such a breakthrough product was not that it made it easy to put up a web page and publish your thoughts -- home page building tools had been doing that for years -- but rather the fact that it let you publish a reverse chronological list of your thoughts.
So we have widely adopted metadata for virtual location and for time. We just haven't made the same breakthrough for real-world location. This has resulted in a strange imbalance in the way we interact with information on our screens, and in our expectations about what should be readily available to us.
Anyhow, there's a lot there, so check it out and let me know what you think!