Loose notes from SXSW 2008 panel on geolocation. Focus was on geo-gaming but other geo-topics also involved.

Great to see Jeremy Irish on the panel – Jeremy is the mastermind behind – the most sophisticated and original database-backed web site I know of – despite it being built in ASP (forgive us, Lord). Jeremy opened the session by showing the placard for the original geocache, and the OCB (Original Can of Beans) (food is no longer allowed in geocaches; ammunition and drugs are also barred).

Ryan Sarver – Skyhook Wireless. Conqwest game – similar to geocaching but more interactive with the real world, and with a big budget (clues on billboard, media buys, etc.)

Dennis – Created Vindigo (old Palm app for finding nearest restaurants – I remember using this). Pacmanhattan – grown men in Pacman suits. Plundr – search for wifi hotspots in your area and create an island. If you connect to the island wifi network you can buy and sell resources, goods (bananas, etc.). When you go and join another network, you can trade items between islands.

Location aware games are difficult to build. Require special software for phones and devices, sometimes cooperation of phone vendor, cities.

Nike+ – a GPS in your shoe. You can graph your run on a public map, share routes.

Can we make public art / graffitti into game pieces? Extending the idea to ski resorts – show ski map with gamepiece icons.

Some resorts now lend out GPSs with built in trail maps, that will tell you what lifts to take to get back to the lodge or to get to a certain lift.

Believability – running away from an invisible thing.

All real-world geo games have social implicatons — littering, or caches looking like pipe bombs.

During Q&A, I asked the panel about geo possibilities for journalists (beyond the obvious answer – geotagging photos). Responses:

Check out – protocol for adding lat/long to each RSS item in a feed.

Also Check out Steven Johnson’s “So what is In a phrase, it’s an attempt to collectively build the geographic Web, neighborhood by neighborhood.”

More: – New geo game designed for modern GPSrs like the Colorado. Reference to Zork I didn’t get… – “Free location-based search and navigation toolbar.”

where camp – at google plex – for the “geo curious.”

2 Replies to “Geolocation”

  1. I caught your post from a Google search for geocaching. Very interesting stuff! I’ve thought of a geo-game myself – maybe it’s already being done and I just don’t know about it…

    Here’s how it works:

    I take a trackable item and logged it in and out of geocaches in a planned pattern. When I view the route in Google Earth from the trackable’s page on, it would spell my name, or create a pattern, which in turn , could be one of many clues to a even larger game.

    Hmmmm. Sounds like a great post on my own blog. Gotta get to it.

    Great blog you have here!

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