What is a map? In traditional cartographic terms, a map is “a graphic representation or scale model of spatial concepts” that is “is a means for conveying geographic information.” The traditional map is static, representing geographic features at a specific moment in time. Antiquarians preserve old maps as pieces of artwork, snapshots into bygone eras, fossilized records of the world that was.
Technology products and services are challenging this traditional conception of cartography, however. Mobile devices in concert with social location are redefining what a map is or can be:
Mobile devices like the iPhone or Nokia N97 increasingly come armed with built-in GPS. Forrester analyst Charlie Golvin predictsthat within five years, phone-based navigation will supplant dedicated portable navigation devices like Garmin or Magellan among consumers. This will be due to massive adoption by Gen Y and Gen X consumers who are increasingly reliant on their mobile phones and who will demand social networking and other connected services integrated into their navigation experience.
Social location shows promise as the next natural phase of mobility – and for social networking overall. Forrester analysts Ian Fogg and Thomas Husson write about the promising, if currently nascent, world of social location. As the CEO of Nokia said earlier this year, “"Imagine what can happen when we mash up social networking and your location, when your device knows where you are, where your friends are and what they are doing. Your social location, or SoLo, will become your here-and-now-identity."
At last week’s Nokia World conference, these trends became more vivid, as Nokia rolled out a video of application scenarios for social location. It begins with “Lifecasting,” whereby consumers can publish their current location (along with positioning) to their network of friends on Facebook: