Wednesday, October 26, 2005

A Sense Of Place

The world is a pretty big place, full of all sorts of things. The internet is a pretty big place too, and it is full of all sorts of information. The internet has many interesting characteristics that make it a pretty cool way to gather this information, so the user can make informed decisions about multifaceted situations (political pundits excepted.) The most rapidly growing area of the internet is in the use of 'tags' that can reduce a complex set of information into a word or words that can greatly help one find one's way in the virtual forest. A good example of this is Flickr, the photo-hosting blog that allows users to define a set of tags for the pictures hosted there. One problem with this approach is that many words are common, and many 'answers' for the same problem exist. Enter GPS (satellite positioning) technology. Couple that with a digital camera (already been done) and automatically incorporate that information as a tag in your photograph, and suddenly you have a very powerful new way to look at the world. This is being done commercially already, and its use for travel, tourism, and military uses will continue to expand.

But what I'm interested in is personal expression. How many of us have clicked on a hosted photo and then looked through the other pictures there? This is voyeurism, to be sure, but usually not of a creepy sort. (I hope!) But if you had enough pictures tagged with GPS coordinates, ( i.e.; DD MM.MMMM N - DD MM.MMMM W - Degrees, Minutes, Decimal Minutes for Latitude and Longitude) then simply googling that data would bring you a host of information and views from that site. Coupled with accurate dating and a time-lapse video of the site would automatically be generated. Old or non-digital photos, could be done as well, if one knew the location and had a good atlas for the coordinates. A different sense of place.

By Professor Batty


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