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Page history last edited by Chris Messina 14 years, 5 months ago


Stowe Boyd


In 140 characters:

Geoslash is microsyntax for user location using slash ('/') -- as in 'just arrived /SFO' or 'heading to /New York: tomorrow/'



The premise of Geoslash is that users want to be able to express their current and projected locations for the benefit of others. This happens all the time in informal ways, but if appliances are to parse this from the Twitter (or other) real time stream, it is significantly and less error-prone is a more formal syntax is used.


Details and Use Cases:

The form of the so-called geoslash (name suggested by Ross Mayfield) is something like a hashtag, with a '/' at the start of the location, and includes a closing slash for multi-word locations.


The geoslash can start at the beginning of a message, or is otherwise preceded by a blank. There are two forms of the geoslash: a one word form (as in 'just landed at /SFO a few hours ago'), and a multiword form ('I will be in /San Franscisco CA/ all week').


(Note: The one word form -- like '/SFO' -- is simpler for users in the general case, but requires any application to look through to the end of the message to determine whether there is a closing slash somewhere. And of course, the single word example can always be enclosed in slashes, which may avoid conflict with slashes used in other ways.)


There is an optional date clause, introduced by ':', where the user can stipulate a date for the location. If a date clause appears, the closing slash must be used.




Just landed at /SFO a few hours ago

@gregarious I will be /NYC:tomorrow - you around?

Planning to visit /Boston MA: June 14-17/

My plans for /Paris France: October 12-16/ are going forward

@chrismessina Can you meet with me in /SFO: next week/?


Comments on Geoslash Appliances


The geoslash is a coordinative bit of punctuation: its principal purpose is to help people coordinate their interactions. Appliances (applications 'listening' to users' streams) might help by capturing this information, storing it, and sharing it on demand or at sensible points in time. For example, if I were to post that I planned a trip to '/NYC:tomorrow' it might be helpful if an appliance captured that information, and informed me (somehow, perhaps through the stream itself) which of my contacts were also going to be in /NYC tomorrow. Alternatively, I might want to ask who is at /SFO as I land there, or find out where @gregarious is right now.



The caret (^) has been proposed as an alternative.

Comments (5)

Ben Clemens said

at 10:20 am on Jun 5, 2009

The particular example of a location and date that don't have spaces /nyc:tomorrow and no trailing slash sort of bugs me. I think that having the syntax based on whether I use spaces or not is weaker than just requiring two slashes for anything other than the most basic case (/location). I think the parser should certainly be able to handle '/location:date', but I would want to specify the syntax for semantic reasons, not just because the location or date I type doesn't happen to have spaces. I'd propose /location:date/ as the standard.

Stowe Boyd said

at 12:30 pm on Jun 5, 2009

But what about the ease and convenience of '/SFO' ?

Andy Mabbett said

at 3:18 am on Jun 8, 2009

This could be combined with my suggested method of publishing microformats in Twitter posts (http://pigsonthewing.wordpress.com/2008/01/05/suggested-method-of-publishing-microformats-in-twitter-posts/) using short codes for hCard (http://microformats.org/wiki/hcard) components, so that parsers could extract details into vCards.

For example, /l Paris /c France where "l" stands for "locality" and "c" stands for "country-name".

Andy Mabbett said

at 3:43 am on Jun 8, 2009

The BBC have been using (http://twitter.com/bangladeshboat/statuses/397425772) location formats like "l:Tambulbunia, Bangladesh=22.27722,89.71905" to encode a placename and its coordinates.

Roger said

at 1:58 am on Jul 3, 2009

We started using #hashtags for identifying places uniquely and @for persons.
See an example here: http://dokodare.kaywa.com/202032849

This way I can say @stoweboyd (the person) and @stoweboyd (the office of stoweboyd). On phones, the most important thing is to be brief and therefore we not only need a microsyntax, we also need "uniqueness". For some places we can build on existing conventions: example: use the IATA names for airports, but for most others there is still a lot to do.

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