April 22, 2011

Scenes from the Where 2.0 mobile conference

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GroupMe, Ditto, LocalMind & some other cool apps you may not have heard of

JD LasicaIcaught a fair chunk of the Where 2.0 conference yesterday in Santa Clara, Calif., plus part of Tuesday’s sessions. I think it’s fair to say this is the best annual gathering of thought leaders in the mobile space — people from the future who beam in to bring us up to speed on where this whole mobile revolution is taking us.

Here’s my modest Flickr photo set of 14 images.

I got to spend some time with two of the rock stars of the mobile world: Di-Ann Eisnor, VP Community of the cool beat-traffic-jams app Waze, and DJ Patil (another initial guy), former chief scientist of LinkedIn and now chief product officer of the hot startup Color, which recently raked in $41 million in venture backing.

I’m always impressed by the visual eye candy at Where 2.0 and this gathering was no exception. Check out the 90-second clip above, Waze Presents: An LA Traffic Story (music), which visually represents a 24-hour time lapse of traffic congestion, accidents, police activity and more in Los Angeles, based on the automatic GPS tracking in the Waze app as well as reports by Waze members. Fun!

Some other highlights from Where 2.0

Serendipity panel
Alexa Andrzejewski of Foodspotting, Jyri Engestrom of Ditto, Di-Ann Eisnor of Waze.

I didn’t get to all the sessions I wanted to, but here are a few other highlights and takeaways:

• Good to meet the folks behind SeeClickFix, a site that lets people report community problems to local government, and one that I’ve admired for some time.

“We’re getting to the point (where) almost everything can have a unique identifier associated with it — things, people, even plants and animals. Then the whole conversation changes.”
— Jyri Engeström, Ditto

• My favorite new toy: the GroupMe app, a group messaging service for ad hoc groups of friends, family, co-workers, college buddies. Says co-founder Steve Martocci: “It’s like a it’s like a reply all chat room on your phone. … This is a very intimate tool that’ll buzz everyone’s pocket.” Yowza!

• 40 percent of ratings on Yelp is coming in through mobile devices. Yelp now has 50 million unique visits per month in eight countries.

• One out of every 10 Israelis (not just drivers) uses Waze.

Localmind is a new service that allows you to send questions and receive answers about what is going on — right now — at places you care about. If it scales, this would be an awesome service.

• Loved this quote from Jyri Engeström of Ditto (just downloaded the app: “Looking to hang out? Find out what your friends are up to, have a conversation, or get a group together. Ditto makes it easy to get recommendations about restaurants, movies and things to do.”):

“A lot of the conversation that goes on at conferences like Where 2.0 is based on the assumption that we’re talking about places and buildings. But the resolution of social objects is getting higher and higher so we’re getting to the things scale and person scale, with almost everything being able to have a unique identifier associated with it — even plants and animals. Then the whole conversation changes.”

• Raffi Krikorian of Twitter: “People want to say ‘I’m in Vegas, baby!’ without giving away their exact location.” His hourlong talk about the different tiers of “local” was fascinating. I was also digging terms like “geohash.” And: “The holy grail of geo-location is to use some kind of GPS triangulation.” Follow him on Twitter at @raffi.

• Jack Abraham, Director of Local at eBay: “Any product that can be digitally distributed, will be.” He noted there were 465 million active IP addresses in 2009 and that number continues to balloon. Also: ecommerce still makes up only 5 percent of all commerce in the United States.

• Did you know that when you tweet a Foursquare check-in, Twitter fetches the url, looks at the location and adds location metadata to the tweet before it goes out, all in a split second?

LoKast allows people to share media with nearby users, at super-fast speeds. Boris Boyatin called it a “disposable social network” — cool term!

• “Mobile is all about discovery and awareness.” – Kiran Modak, EVP, @unsocial

• Other apps that looked cool: Fwix (“What’s happening nearby?”), Foodspotting (“The best foods and where to find them”), and ToothTag (Mashable: Never Lose Your Car or Miss a Friend With ToothTag).

• Saved the best url for last. Some of the speakers posted their slides for folks to download or view at http://where2conf.com/slides. Some amazing stuff here.JD Lasica, founder and former editor of Socialbrite, is co-founder of Cruiseable. Contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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