blackbearnh writes "Yahoo! has been working for a while to promote a unified system for referring to places, through their Where On Earth IDs. Using a WOEID, you can query Yahoo's publicly available APIs to find out things like what cities are in a county, or what counties border each other. In an interview for O'Reilly Radar, Tyler Bell, the product lead for the Yahoo Geo Technology Group, talks about their Open Location program (not to be confused with openlocation.org, a different group altogether). He also talks about how privacy concerns interact with the increasing use of personal geotracking, and the troublesome problem of what to call places. 'I'm not even going to tell you about the problems we had when we accidentally called Constantinople Byzantium, just slipping back about 800 years there accidentally. That's a very sensitive issue. Any company dealing with geography is going to have to address it somehow. So I'll be very candid in how Yahoo addresses this. I mean first, our stated goal is to capture the world's geography as it is used by the world's people. We don't see ourselves as the definitive authority on how a place should be called.'"
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