Silence on Spatial Search

Update (2007-06-04): More search help, but no details, from Google.

Update: Paul Ramsey reports that the game-changing impact of spatial search was brought up in the CalGIS conference keynote.

Ed Parsons, a few weeks ago, was befuddled by the GIS industry's almost-imperceptible response to Google's spatial search news. There hasn't been any new tide of interest since, and there are 3 primary reasons.

First and foremost, there's no public API for the spatial search, and no access other than via Google Earth or Maps (example here). What's a geospatial developer to do? Navigate GMaps to a location, search, and then scrape the page for results? Ugh.

Next, there's very little information from Google about the steps geo-webmasters should take to be spatially indexed. One scant blog post about KML in sitemaps and a handful of quotes in Directions don't add up to much. I'd like to see some simple spatial tools integrated with Google's Webmaster Central. Maybe this will be a part of Ed's new job?

I'm not going to trot out the famous Upton Sinclair quote here, but it can not be denied that geospatial search offerings from Google (and soon, I'm sure, from other search engines) are disruptive to the mainstream GIS industry. Many of us are catalog programmers or catalog salespersons, and there's a bit of ducking and covering going on. Hoping that the disruption goes away without altering the business isn't going to work. Over the next few years, the relevance of sites like the Geospatial One-Stop, or projects like OGC Web Catalog Service, will evaporate just like the relevance of Yahoo's web catalog did in the late 1990s.