That rings true. But the question remains: who will build it? Twitter seems to be passing the buck to Google, who seems to be passing it right back to Twitter. Brightkite clearly wants to, but will any of the other players really trust a rival with their data? If not, will they start to restrict their APIs to make it harder to access the place information in bulk?
The obvious solution is to have a completely open database, as Erick laid out. But again, that is easier said than done. We’ve seen that time and time again with a number of different initiatives. “Open” sounds great until someone has to actually do it, be in charge of it, and get users to use it.