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January 23, 2008 / Steven Pousty

Yahoo! FireEagle [or is it Fire Eagle]

Last night I went to the WCA LBS SIG to hear about Yahoo! Fire Eagle – here is my transcript from the session. Overall the take home is that Yahoo is building a public store of your location that gives you the ability to grant permission to applications to update and query your location. In other words creating a REST API to push your location to their service – they they standardize the location as best they can – then provide a REST api to query for GeoJSON or GeoRSS for your location.

Very exciting possibilities -Yahoo has taken on the task of trying to store location information in a public way. OpenSocial is trying to build the Social Graph but not on a single server – Fire Eagle is trying to do this on a central server for people’s location. So instead of being distributed data sits on their servers.

How are they going to make money with this? Either Mor was being coy or Yahoo is being coy or they really haven’t figured it out. I can see 3 ways

  1. Since you need a YahooID to use it you may then start using other Yahoo services
  2. They eventually start charging people to store their location (unlikely)
  3. They start accessing people’s location data in an anonymous way to aggregate location information to provide unique services – such as feedback to advertisers about how many Fire Eagle users actually ended up at the event.

Should be interesting all the way around

and now the transcript…

Excellent presenter with great presentation zen
Lots o cool things you can do when you know where people are

1. Hard to capture where people are – lots o methods and even same method are different on different platforms
35 ways to find your location talk is recommended

2. Locations are hard to interpret. How to get from cell tower to lat,long and then from that to human place names is also hard [not for us]

3. It’s hard to abstract – which hierarchical level do you aggregate to, city state…

4. Location is hard to handle – have to securely store it, have to query it,

5. Hard to manage – mostly legal issues especially when you deal with different countries and states

6. Hard to share – disses symbian C++ and cross Nokia development

first casuallity is the location based web
Second – location-enhanced social networks. Claims loopt suffers from platform issues but he doesn’t understand loopt – commiunication is neighborhood dependent
FireEagle should increase the number of ppl in the network

The Big Idea  – share your location online
Store and make sense of your location
Share the location with apps and services
While  maintaining control over data and privacy

Available soon but no time table

Fire Eagle sets up a service that acts to create a many to many between location capture and location services. Fire eagle is about managing permissions and also does a cross walk between input location to a standardized hierarchy

??So how does yahoo make money

3 step into the API
Query – there are different levels of accuracy that users can allow from exact to country

Uses OAuth for authentication
The application never knows the YahooID of the user
To update you send the REST request with the key and the location and get an ok response
To query you send the key and you get the user location at the proper level authorized for your app by the user

??How do I identify which user I want info for if I don’t know the ID

Using either GeoRSS or GeoJSON as the response to the query

??But an app is either allowed or not allowed but not on a user by user basis

They made a big deal about your own data and privacy

??Does Hide Me throw away the data coming in or just not show it in a query



Leave a Comment
  1. Sean Gillies / Jan 23 2008 10:50 am

    Your friendly neighbor pedant here. REST is an *architectural style*, and so there isn’t any such thing as a “REST API” or “REST request”. Better to write “Web API” and “HTTP request”.

  2. Steven Citron-Pousty / Jan 23 2008 10:58 am

    Thanks for the word policing – I guess I was too busy writing my next Fake James Fee post to pay attention to those kind of issues 😉

    To argue pedantics a bit though – REST API could make sense since it is could be construed as your API that follows rest conventions – same as a WS* Web Services API.

  3. Sean Gillies / Jan 23 2008 11:03 am

    Wrong. REST and WS-* are on different levels. WS-* is not an architectural style, it’s an architecture. You can implement WS-*. You cannot implement REST. You *can* implement RESTful architectures like the HTTP Web.

  4. Steven Citron-Pousty / Jan 23 2008 11:11 am

    Fine I will grant you that you may be technically correct but it is immaterial since I think REST API has now become part of the developer vernacular to indicate an API based upon the architectural style – as fabulous evidence I submit the number of responses to a google search for “REST API”

    So yes you are statistically significant but not biologically significant

  5. Sean Gillies / Jan 23 2008 11:20 am

    Yes, I already knew about all the ignoramouses out there.


  1. Refresh: I cannot wait to try Fire Eagle
  2. Invites to Fire Eagle « Steve’s Little world

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