Gee! Oh! Am I Geo Ready? Geosocial Applications Have the Potential to Transform Market Research, Data Collection, Maps, and Other Things That Are Critical to Libraries

By Abram, Stephen | Information Outlook, December 2010 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Gee! Oh! Am I Geo Ready? Geosocial Applications Have the Potential to Transform Market Research, Data Collection, Maps, and Other Things That Are Critical to Libraries


Abram, Stephen, Information Outlook


Geo is hot, hot, hot! It started long ago, but went big when the U.S. military stopped scrambling the geolocation signals from satellites and services like General Motors' OnStar were born. Before that happened, I was privileged to see GPS in action on my brother-in-law's fleet of ships on the Great Lakes, where he knew, at all times, the location of every ship within six inches.

Today, all of the cool kids are playing with Foursquare and becoming mayors, or they're collecting badges in Gowalla. They're divulging their locations for every Starbucks venti latte or bagel place on Twitter and Facebook. Lordy!

Is this just another waste of time, or does it have the potential to change the face of the Web yet again? Can it provide helpful information for special librarians in specialized settings, or is this just about contextual savings coupons for retail consumers in Groupon?

My take on geo is that it's a little of both. As is the case with so many other technological programs and systems, playing with geo tools and features in a casual way can help us evaluate and understand their potential and maybe even spark our own imaginations. So this month's column is a return to my favorite theme--play.

Understanding the Lingo

It's good to get the lingo straight so that we can at least sound smart about geo. Wikipedia does a fine job with the basic definitions.

Geolocation: "... the identification of the real-world geographic location of an Internet-connected computer, mobile device, [W]ebsite visitor or other."

GPS (global positioning system): " ... a navigational system involving satellites and computers that can determine the latitude and longitude of a receiver on Earth by computing the time difference for signals from different satellites to reach the receiver."

GIS (geographic information system): "A geographic information system, or geographical information system, is any system that captures, stores, analyzes, manages, and presents data that are linked to location."

Geo-IP: Geographic Internet protocol address location services can help you identify a virtual mobile or Web visitor's geographic location information (country, region, city, latitude, longitude, ZIP code, time zone, connection speed, ISP and domain name, IDD country code, area code, weather station code and name, and mobile carrier) using an IP address look-up database and technology.

Geotagging: Also called geocoding, geotagging is " ... the process of adding geographical identification metadata to various media such as photographs, video, websites, or RSS feeds and is a form of geospatial metadata."

Geocaching: "Geocaching is an outdoor activity in which the participants use a GPS receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers (called 'geocaches' or 'caches') anywhere in the world."

Now you have the basic words for a conversation. Let's move on and talk about how geo affects librarianship.

The Potential for Libraries

I've been playing with several geosocial apps for about a year. My personal experience is that they're fun and that there is an enormous potential here for libraries. We've become very used to search engines like Google and Bing sensing our country and serving up a geo-located interface. This is different--it exploits a much finer granularity.

I loaded Foursquare and Gowalla onto my iPhone (although they work on other smart phones and the iTouch as well) and personal computer. I tried to get Loopt, but it wouldn't load on a Canadian phone (I'd enjoy hearing from anyone who has tried Loopt or any other geo-application). I have also permitted Twitter and Facebook to know my location and provide geolocated experiences and ads.

I use these services in certain specific situations. For example, I always use them when I'm at one of the 100-plus conferences I attend annually. I use them in airports, too.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Gee! Oh! Am I Geo Ready? Geosocial Applications Have the Potential to Transform Market Research, Data Collection, Maps, and Other Things That Are Critical to Libraries
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?