Putting Pictures on the Map
By Eric Lin, Mon Aug 23 23:30:00 GMT 2004

Last year it was a feat just to get pictures from a phone onto the web. Now that people are moblogging, the problem is how to organize all those pictures.

A few months ago, location tagged photos were one of the heralds of a new wave of location based services. As those services and others evolve, it seems that sorting photos by location makes sense not just as a location based service, but as a way of viewing photos online or off.

Nokia has launched a new Series 60 application for the 7610 to organize photos photos taken with the cameraphone. In addition to the usual reverse chronological order, the application also sorts photos by location. However since the 7610 does not have GPS built in, users have to manually enter locations for their photos. It isn't an optimal solution yet, but it looks like a sign of things to come.

In Japan, where cameraphones have been equipped with GPS equipment for over a year now, applications to display photos by location are getting more refined. Where initially one hackers' efforts displayed a map for each picture, now web authors have realized the map is an interface, not just some data to display. Near Near Future (link from Picturephoning) has found two such applications. Each uses a map of Tokyo as the interface. Users can then click on points which indicate the spot where each photo was taken. Tokyo Picturesque is strictly sorted by location, whereas Perspectives allows viewers to view pictures by location, date, or author. Each presents a compelling view of the city and its inhabitants.

Although these new Japanese solutions are designed for mobloggers, the interfaces are optimized for a rich desktop experience. Yellow Arrow has devised a way to create an interface friendly to mobile users by using a physical indicator in addition to a virtual one. Yellow Arrow users indicate that they've moblogged from a spot by placing a sticker with a unique code from where they've sent their post. Visitors to that spot can then send an email with the shortcode and recieve an sms response with any text the blogger annotated that site with. Meanwhile pictures are kept in an online database along with location information for those who visit from the virtual world.

Late adopters or technological curmudgeons often complain that the internet and mobile technologies destroy our ties to a particular place, creating a band of technological nomads. It is interesting then, that those at the bleeding edge of technology are just as attached to a sense of place as those who mistrust technology.