Where 2012 Call for Participation

Call closed 11.59pm 04/02/2012 PDT.

Topics | Workshops | Presentation Types | Tips for Successful Proposals | Resources | Important Dates

Submit your proposal by October 31, 2011

As we plan the program for the eighth edition of Where Conference: The Business of Location, we’re looking for technologists and strategists, CTOs and CIOs, technology evangelists and scouts, marketing experts, researchers, programmers, geographers, researchers and academics, artists and activists, business developers, and entrepreneurs to lead sessions and workshops at the next Where Conference, taking place April 2-4, 2012, at the Marriott Marquis San Francisco.

Topics on the Radar for Where 2012

We’re looking for proposals in all areas of the location space, organized around Location Development, Mobile Development, Marketing, and Business & Strategy. Here are just some of the topics on our radar:

  • HTML5: A location app needs a map. The release of Javascript mapping frameworks Polymaps and Cartagen prove that modern browsers and HTML5 can duplicate Flash and that geo apps can be built. Is this the next killer tech?
  • Data Collections: Mobile apps are not just about “check-ins,” they’re about users and data. With more users comes more realtime data, and with more data comes the ability to get even more users via better services.
  • Users vs. Features: Location apps are often so powerful that users don’t always understand what’s being done with their data. Services have to protect their users. Who is doing it successfully and what are the cautionary tales?
  • Public vs. Private: Geodata is often a fact. This house is here. This person was there at this time. But just because it’s a fact doesn’t mean it should be public—or does it?
  • Ads vs. Subscriptions: Location apps need to make money and the business model debate continues to rage about the best way to go about it.
  • Interfaces Augmented reality is the interface du jour and there is always a 2D vs. 3D debate.
  • Future of Mapping: Maps are the heart of Where 2.0. There are new imagery, recording, and collection technologies that will change maps in the coming years.
  • Government & Humanitarian: Location, mobile, and social technologies are being used to save lives and open governments around the world. Look no further than the use of Ushahidi in Haiti to see a successful example.
  • Mobile: The iPhone, Android, and Windows mobile OS’s are continually advancing the state of the art. By creating a wide-spread platform that allows for third-party development and geolocation they are bringing along the whole industry. The phone is going to become the primary I/O device for geodata in the near future. What new applications are you building for it? How are the social apps affecting society and our notions of privacy?
  • Realtime: We share our status through out the day. We are making records of ourselves. For an individual this is shown in the form of Facebook’s Timeline or the Foursquare hack Muggleclock (http://muggleclock.com/)- interesting only to them and their network. However in aggregate this data becomes the pulse of our world.
  • Geo Analytics & Prediction: Now that we are awash in this pulse data, companies are using it to predict traffic and behavior. Newcomers like SignalGuru are helping drivers time lights while the experienced Inrix has been doing this for commutes for years.
  • Fraud & Privacy: As the world’s wallets go mobile location data will have to be collected to protect against fraud. How will consumers handle this? Sure it already happens with credit cards, but the average consumer doesn’t realize that. How will companies protect user’s privacy?
  • Location: Every modern browser can now geolocate it’s user. Websites are now going to start using this information. What should they do with the information? What new services can be created?
  • Mobile Advertising vs. Services: Will people pay for their mobile apps directly or through ads? Which makes for a better product, a better user experience and a more stable revenue stream?
  • Augmented Reality: The combination of a camera, a GPS and a compass on a mobile phone is going to let us layer information on top of the world. What do you want to see? How will you edit the layers?
  • Open Data: Governments are treasure troves of data. Increasingly they are releasing it online for free. How does open data effect the web? How can this data be widely available and yet maintain its creators? How is this critical information being put to use?
  • Crisis Mapping: The tools of neogeography are being used to spread the word of humanitarian and natural disasters. What are some of the best (and worst) examples?
  • Open Source: The backbone of any independent mapping site is open source software. What are the newest client and server-side tools that can be used to handle the location-enabled web?


Where Conference will have a full day of workshops where participants can dig deep into a range of issues and leave the conference armed with new tools and skills. Workshops are one hour and fifteen minutes in length and will be held on Monday, April 2. Topics we’d like to explore include, but are not exclusive to:

  • Geo Support in Web Application Frameworks: As people design their own mapping applications, there has been a need for built-in geo support. We’re looking for workshops that teach about Mapstraction, Modest Maps, Open Layers, GeoDjango, GeoRuby, MapCruncher, and other tools.
  • GeoStack: As locations apps are brought in-house, companies need their own geostack. What are the best tools?
  • Mapping APIs: The location space would not have gotten as far as it has today without all of the innovation in the mapping API space. How can you test the limits of these free resources?
  • GeoTargeting: Knowing users’ locations has never been more important. Identifying it accurately can be difficult and expensive. What are the best methods?
  • Privacy Implications: As you are collecting user data, keeping track of your users, or collecting geodata, are you aware of the relevant laws? What would you teach others?
  • GeoBrowsers: Google Earth and NASA WorldWind are both amazing geobrowsers. How can you get the most out of them?
  • Data Management: Geo applications work with massive amounts of data. What are the tools, tips, and tricks that can be used to manage it?

Proposals will be considered for the following types of presentations:

  • 15 minute session
  • 30-minute panel discussion
  • 75-minute workshop
  • Product/Company Launch
  • Mini Maker Faire or Game

A limited number of speaking opportunities are also available through conference sponsorship. Contact Cindy McMillan at cmcmillan@oreilly.com for more information.

Successful proposals will:

  • Tell a unique story: What lessons can only you share? What insights are you uniquely qualified to explain? We’re interested in your experience far more than your credentials. If you speak at a lot of events, be sure to note why this presentation is different. Warmed-over talks from the conference circuit are less likely to be appealing. The conference has a limited number of slots, and if attendees can see the same talk somewhere else, why should they come see you at this one?
  • Be authentic: Your peers need real-world scenarios they can use. Please submit original presentation ideas that focus on knowledge transfer, and engaging and relevant examples.
  • Present something relevant: If you’re presenting a new way to do something that others have been doing for a decade or more, you need an angle on it that’s fresh or an explanation for why it’s important now. The hot things are hot, the cold things are cold, but there are interesting problems in almost everything. One of your challenges as a proposer is to demonstrate that you understand that attendees might need an extra reason to pay attention to something that they might otherwise think of as “settled”.
  • Provide a clear description of what attendees will learn: Whether your proposed session seeks to explain an emerging trend or teach a critical skill, you must provide a direct, concise description of what attendees will learn. If your presentation is about something truly ground-breaking, earth-shattering, and new, it will be helpful to the reviewers if you describe it in terms of things that attendees might already know of.
  • Be thorough: If you are proposing a panel tell us who else would be on it. If you are going to have a release let us know. If you feel this is something that hasn’t been covered at Where 2.0 before let us know. The more we know about what you plan to present and why it matters, the better.
  • Keep the audience in mind: Our audience is technical, professional, and already pretty smart.
  • Clearly identify the level of the talk: Is your talk for beginners to the topic, or for gurus? What knowledge should people have when they come to the presentation?
  • Be free of marketing pitches: Focus on lessons learned and NOT the benefits of your product or service. Product pitches are automatic rejects. Lessons learned from building or running your product, however, can be invaluable. And don’t assume that your company’s name buys you cred. If you’re talking about something important that you have specific knowledge of because of what your company does, spell that out in the description.
  • Skip the jargon: The more buzzwords you use, the less we think you have something interesting to say.
  • Limit the scope of the talk: You won’t be able to cover everything about Widget Framework XYZ in the allotted amount of time. Instead, pick a useful aspect, or a particular technique, or walk through a simple program.
  • Include people we don’t see often enough at tech conferences: Does your presentation have the participation of a woman, person of color, or member of another group often underrepresented at tech conferences? Diversity is one of the factors we seriously consider when reviewing proposals as we seek to broaden our speaker roster.
  • Come from the presenter: The vast majority of proposals we accept are submitted by the presenters themselves, not by PR firms. If you’re a PR person, improve your chances by working closely with the presenter(s) to write a jargon-free proposal that’s got clear value for attendees.
  • Have a simple and straightforward title: Fancy and clever titles or descriptions make it harder for people (reviewers and attendees) to figure out what you’re really talking about.

More Resources for Writing Your Proposal

Important Dates

  • Proposals are due October 31, 2011
  • Proposers will be notified of acceptance by late November 2011
  • Registration opens December 2011
  • Esri
  • AT&T Interactive
  • Google
  • Nokia, Location & Commerce
  • Facebook
  • Bing
  • Control Group
  • Localeze
  • MyCityWay
  • Socrata
  • Urban Airship
  • MapQuest

Sponsorship Opportunities

For information on exhibition and sponsorship opportunities at the conference, contact Gloria Lombardo at glombardo@oreilly.com

Media Partner Opportunities

For media partnerships, contact mediapartners@ oreilly.com

Press and Media

For media-related inquiries, contact Maureen Jennings at maureen@oreilly.com

Contact Us

View a complete list of Where Conference contacts