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Friday, January 27, 2006

The Mexican government decided to hold off on further distribution of a map (AP) that would help those trying to cross the border into the United States. The U.S. was against the idea from the start, but Mexican officials said the reason to rethink the plan came from human rights supporter who feared anti-immigration activists would learn where potential immigrants might congregate. The Minuteman Civil Defense Corps said it would use any information it could get from the maps.

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/27 at 07:18 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Let’s be clear or let’s debate. Do you think the term "mashup" implies a semi-serious, homegrown, just for fun app…or something for commercial use (See definition). We’ve been cautioned via a letter to the editor and other communication that either the term "mashup" is misunderstood entirely or that it connotes an application that’s "not ready for prime time." There is a reason to consider the semantics here and be concerned with its usage. It goes directly to the issue of licensing. When the Google Maps API was first offered (or soon thereafter), there were constraints to what you could do with your mashup. The API was open; you just couldn’t make money with it. Microsoft’s Virtual Earth API was structured differently and written to allow broader usage for commercial applications. But while "mashup" has entered the vernacular, it may be ill-suited to describe some excellent applications with "serious" money-making opportunities…Craigslist being only one example. What’s your take?

by Joe Francica on 01/27 at 06:57 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Today, I met with Joe Herzog, Director of Emerging Products and Eric Larson, Product Manager for Directories at InfoSpace, a company focused on mobile phone applications, many with a location context. Herzog said that while today you will be paying a subscription fee for mobile location-based service "it’s all about getting to free." Herzog thinks the current business models are not necessarily the ones that will be viable over the long run. "Calls and clicks" is the revenue model of most mobile phone operators and the location-based services that people will demand must be a part of that same model. Herzog believes that LBS applications should be free, or at least transparently so, to the user. The LBS app will just chew up more minutes and hence a larger return to the operator. However, in the near term, look for LBS subscription plans to be in the $2 - $3 per month fee range.

by Joe Francica on 01/26 at 04:44 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Slashdot and World Changing (finalist for a bloggie) reference an article to appear in Nature that explains how the bill tracking “game” Where’s George helped model the spread of epidemics.

The press release and a cool map are availble via Eurekalert. An excerpt:

The physicists were intrigued: Like viruses, money is transported by people from place to place. They found that the human movements follow what are known as universal scaling laws (from local to regional to long-distance scales). Using the game data, they developed a powerful mathematical theory that describes the observed movements of travelers amazingly well over distances from just a few kilometers to a few thousand. The study represents a major breakthrough for the mathematical modeling of the spread of epidemics.

“Since we can’t track people with tracking devices, like we do animals, we needed to get data that provided us with millions of movements of individuals,” explained Hufnagel. Scientists are already familiar with similar scaling laws from physical and biological systems. “What is amazing about these particular scaling laws is the fact that they are determined by two universal parameters only. This result surprised us all.”

It’s a good day when the “game” one plays turns out to help humanity.

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/26 at 11:49 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Heather Hopkins who works at HitWise and was involved with the stats I cited yesterday about how Google Earth was the #8 most searched term in the UK for a several week period in Dec/Jan has a blog post trying to figure out why. Worth a read if you, too, are curious about this cultural phenomena and why so many older folks are checking out Google Earth.

by Adena Schutzberg on 01/26 at 08:42 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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