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Map Spam Coming

Posted on Tuesday, Sep 5th 2006

Last week, Flickr announced GeoTags, highlighting the increasing importance of the “place” dimension in the largely “virtual” Internet.

“When we were doing our projections for how many photos Flickr members would geotag, we though that we’d hit Spiral Jetty a million in the first month, maybe even as fast as two weeks. Instead, 24 hours in, there were 1,234,384 geotagged photos (and now more than 1.6 million geotagged photos as I write this, about 9 hours later). Crazy!”

9 days later, Map Spam?

Do a search on San Francisco at Flickr Map. 30,993 results. Presumably, where Yahoo wants to go with this, is to be able to cross-pollinate Yahoo! Travel with Flickr photos. San Francisco, today, has 100 User Photos. I’ll check back in 90 days, after the viral effect of GeoTagging has taken hold in the Yahoo community.

My prediction: All this Place-Smart information on the web will soon require smarter organization frameworks and object models. Stay tuned. There are companies working on cracking this code in stealth mode. GeoTag isn’t enough to organize photographs by place. And photographs are not the only type of content that need to be organized by place.

More discussion: here, here, here, here.

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Add SecondLife to it and things become really interesting. I’m consulting for a conservative Photoshop/QuarkXpress (MAC)sweatshop: When I showed them the potential offered by Flickr Geo Tag/Google Earth/Sketchup/SecondLife, they are immediately hooked.
The power of social network/media is slowly getting validated in a wider way. And we will wake up to API 2.0 – the Water that unifies the digital world.

Balaji Sowmyanarayanan Tuesday, September 5, 2006 at 10:37 PM PT

I believe you are on to something here…

Latitude and Longitude coordinates simply describe a point in space, that represents the approximate location derived from the address. There are error factors (as much as 20 – 30 meters) in map data and geocoding tools that generate the location from a street address… this technology simply isn’t granular or accurate enough to provide a unique lat/long for each building.

So if there is no direct link from the Flickr photo -> to lat/lon -> to a particular place/building, and we could have thousands of push pins in maps, with photos attached… it could get really, really messy in (and around) popular places like Embarcadero Center, or Union Square Shopping District.

This problem is evident to some degree with’s cool mapping site with the GPS-tagged building facades… Typing in an address, gets you positioned on the map, in proximity to cluster of 6- 10 pictures that are “close” to the place… but not directly to “the picture” of the place…

Your map spam theory would be having the nicely organized A9 photos… but with a thousand other amateur, geo-tagged photos cluttering up the view… worse than those Canadian winters where the snow flies horizontal…

In places like Hawaii, there might be so many photos/pins that you wouldn’t even be able to see the map anymore…

Hmmmm… must be a better way.

Cal McElroy Wednesday, September 6, 2006 at 11:44 PM PT

[…] those that users would not have otherwise discovered easily. However, there is a pretty significant map spam issue coming up on this, not to be […]

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