Photos and Locative Tagging

launched a new geotagging
this week (via).
It’s tied in with Yahoo’s mapping API; via Flickr, you can assign locative data
to your photos simply by drag-and-drop methods. The Flickr blog
an impressive surge in the geotagging of photographs with some 1.2 million
geotagged in the first 24 hours after the feature’s rollout.

Granted, if a
photo already had geotags assigned, the new system automatically recognized
them, so a fair portion of the 1.2 million were probably auto-assigned rather
than initiated by Flickr users.

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Text to Map


drew my attention to the Gutenkarte
, a series of scripts and processes that renders place-names
appearing in a given text and locates them on
a map. The Gutenkarte site announces
future plans for the project, including a wiki-like annotation add-on that will
enable a group of users to collaborate in expanding the place-name information
and related contextual relevance (one day to include digital images and video?).
The project bears many similarities to Franco Moretti’s survey of the shifting
geographies of village life in the nineteenth century. Moretti’s analysis often
moves beyond standard place-names to include positions of and distances between
people and things known to be in particular places. These he distinguishes as
geometries; plotted, they are more like diagrams than maps, he tells us (54).
The Gutenkarte project is not yet as refined as Moretti’s work; mining a text
for toponyms depends on the database’s tolerance place-name ambiguity and
spelling variations (among other things I probably don’t understand). Still,
despite the obvious limitations, the motives underlying Gutenkarte present an
affirmative answer to one of Moretti’s guiding questions, "Do maps add anything,
to our knowledge of literature?" (35), even if it is being applied to literary
texts from the Gutenberg Project for now.

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As Graphs

In with the URL, out
with this: an
approximation of this page.  Movable Type is
responsible for much of the structure. Still, there you have it–a good (and
mighty granular) example of computational methods and visualization combined to
offer up a projection of a localized complex. It looks to me like a dragon fly
(or maybe a cluster map of the dissertation I will one day write).

And. Also.


I’m not thinking of buying a house, but if was, I’d refer to, a site layered with maps,
orthophoto aerial images, residential housing data and tax-assessed valuations.
I delivered my final "mini-briefing" of the semester in GEO781 yesterday, touted
Zillow’s finer points. I find it interesting because it aspires to aggregate
the cadastre data from multiple municipalities in a single database while tying
into Navteq maps (like Google) and
GlobeXplorer aerials
and the impressive bird’s-eye views from
. Most of the description and assessment data is available
for specific cities and counties, but it’s often listed in a table without
dynamic mapping interfaces to make reading across multiple properties efficient
or easy. We should expect Zillow to expand, too, because it’s growing the
information side of the real estate market; the bird’s-eye stuff was added just
two weeks ago. And ultimately, for me, therein lies the treat of the site. The
cadastre data is fine (even if it’s not searchable by the owner’s name like it
is at many city/county web sites), but the twin-view of the maps/photos/hybrids
and the bird’s-eye views of properties are nice to look at. And the two frames
are synched; click-n-drag action in one frame has the same effect in the
adjacent frame. The same applies to directional rotation. Bird’s-eye from the
east? Select it and the same turn happens in the map view. The compass-dial in
the upper left is smooth, too. It’s not limited to four or eight directions
like so many others.

Market comparisons for recent home sales aren’t yet available in CNY, and
when I checked them out for our former house in KC, the comps were negligible. I
suspect it to be a condition of a project in its infancy. Someone in class
yesterday said Zillow will spell the end of the real estate agent. Maybe.
What good is an agent when you have agency? Or zagency. That’s the other
thing. runs the risk of going wild with the reasoning that goes
"people remember z-words" (they say their favorite letter is z). Where
market-data supports it (tracking county-wide trends in sales),
offers what they’ve coined as a "zestimate." A happy collision of
zest+estimate? There’s also a trade-marked "Zestimator." Here’s hoping there’s
not too much more of ZatTM.
Still, the interface design and mapping uses are cool.


The upcoming issue of The New Yorker includes an article first
released yesterday to the magazine’s web site. 
There: The science of driving directions,"
offers a sharp-right overview of
evolving navigational technologies, running from Rand McNally paper maps to
their updated on-dash equivalents.  A brief history of automobile
navigation gets a few column inches, too; both the "Jones Live-Map" and the "Photo-Auto
Guide" were early twentieth century contrivances for first-person (um,
first-vehicle?) navigating.  Though it’s only briefly mentioned and mixed
in with a bunch of other fun, interesting details, one proposition is that we’re
seeing a resurgence in egocentric navigational devices with various mobile

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