May 19, 2009

Introducing Traveling Geeks London

London-street-level

JD LasicaOne reason I’ve been overstretched for many months is that I’ve been working since last August as the (unpaid) chief organizer of the second Traveling Geeks expedition to explore cutting-edge technologies in a hotbed of innovation. Last spring it was Israel. This time around: London!

On Sunday we launched the TravelingGeeks.com website using WordPress, and I think it has some cool features, such as a widget that captures real-time conversations.

On Monday most of the Geeks got together over lunch at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco to hear how to use Nokia’s Ovi Maps (see above) on our mobile devices. Nokia is loaning us N79s for the trip while in London and Cambridge July 4-11, and Jorg Malang, Head of Ovi Maps, and Maria Rakusanova, Product Marketing Manager — who are in the area for Where 2.0 — walked us through an hourlong live demo.

Jeff Saperstein, JD Lasica, Ken Kaplan of Intel, Christine Ngo of Ogilvy, photo by Susan Bratton

Jeff Saperstein, JD Lasica, Ken Kaplan of Intel, Christine Ngo of Ogilvy. Photo by Susan Bratton

We have a great lineup of Geeks for TG2: Howard Rheingold, Craig Newmark, Robert Scoble, Sarah Lacy, Meghan Asha, Sarah Austin, Tom Foremski, Sky Schuyler, Susan Bratton, Renee Blodgett, founder Jeff Saperstein and myself.

Here’s our still-developing Agenda — pretty impressive! On tap: a “speed date” with Seed Camp winners, a podcast at the Guardian on the future of news and media, talks and sessions at the 2gether conference, meeting with Accel startups, participating in an Econsultancy Roundtable with tech startup winners, hitting the TechCrunch Europe Summer Party, then participating in a Roundtable on Open Innovation at Cambridge. We’re also trying to arrange an afternoon tea with Tony Blair and hope to spend a little time relaxing — say, punting on the Cambridge.

Just a couple of highlights from Monday’s session with Nokia:

• Nokia, which released a major upgrade with Maps 2.0 in May 2008, is on track to release Maps 3.0 in a couple of weeks.

• Maria said real-time traffic updates will be available to premium service subscribers in selected cities in the United States in “a couple of weeks.” More information on that when it gets closer.

• The City Explorer pack, which takes you on a detailed block-by-block tour of major cities around the world, looks awesome, and we’ll be using it in London, along with GPS-guided Car Navigation.

The consensus at the table was that standalone devices like the Garmin are in big trouble when this GPS routing capability becomes widely available on cell phones and iPhones. (Nokia Maps doesn’t work on the iPhone.)

Robert Scoble made the sly observation that Nokia should be considering opt-in real-time tracking of mobile users. “When you walk into a store, you’re expressing intent.” This is the future of advertising and marketing, folks.

He also said it would be cool if Ovi Maps integrated with Tripit, a travel service similar to Dopplr that lets you forward travel confirmation emails from the airlines and then converts it into an itinerary.

Sponsors who are powering the Geeks

We owe a big debt of thanks to Intel, Nokia, Britain’s technology innovation agency, NESTA, East of England International and BT for underwriting the cost of the trip. (We still need one or two more sponsors, if you’re interested in supporting the trip and getting some shout-outs in social media circles.)

We’ll be blogging, tweeting, live streaming, photographing and conducting video interviews with technology innovators we encounter all along the way. You’ll be able to follow the doings on this blog, on my Twitter stream and at Travelinggeeks.com. I had a great time participating in the inaugural Traveling Geeks’ Innovation Israel program and watching a citizen media posse in action.

If you live in the UK or will be visiting London the week of July 5, drop me a note and we’ll try to arrange a meetup, or you can come to the July 5 Tweetup we’re planning.

JD Lasica, founder of Socialmedia.biz, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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