Mashups, Maps, and GIS

Will Chesser, a Senior Consultant at ESRI and a friend hit the slopes with me yesterday at Keystone. We laid down some nice turns, Will nearly landed in a creek while carving through the trees, and we shared some interesting conversation about ideas we mutually agree deserve to be realized into new businesses. As we were driving through Clear Creek Canyon on the way back to Boulder, Will said "Web 2.0 apps  put information on maps for users to see, but all users can do with this is see where things are. They can't ask their applications geographic questions. I want to ask the map tough geographic questions". Money... Since the summer of 2005, I've occasionally thought about the ontological differences between mashups and hardcore GIS, often struggling to compartmentalize the two very different approaches into comfortable containers. Within five seconds, Will eloquently summarized the main differences, and I'm not sure he even realized the simplicity of it. As we drove out of canyon, the warm 60 degree air and Colorado sun hit my face as we rolled into Golden, and with that, a sense of calm with my new enlightened perspective.