I’ve just discovered a very cool site, loc.alize.us, a mashup that takes advantage of GeoTags.
Let me back up.
Social tagging, or just tagging on the Internet is the practice of associating a bit of (usually) shared information with some Internet thing — a web page, a photo, a YouTube video, a music file. A tag is usually a word or short phrase, so it’s just a small burst of information, not a lengthy comment. Other users can see the tags you’ve put on things, and can put their own tags on. Collectively, the tags can be used to layer a kind of ad hoc information system on the Internet. Someone looking for, say, cool places to ski, can find lists of ski resorts, or can search for ski resorts through Google... or she can look at what people have tagged with ski-related tags. It’s sort of the Internet word-of-mouth way of doing things, and it’s very popular on the various social networking sites.
Flickr, for example, has provided a specific kind of tagging: geographic tagging, or GeoTagging — you tag a photo with the location where the photo was taken. Rather handy, because people looking at your photo can see where it was (or, at least, where you said it was; as with any user tagging, accuracy is, well, not guaranteed).
OK, so now we’re back to loc.alize.us. They’ve put a very nice interface onto the GeoTags. Try it: go look at my photo of Prague Castle (Pražský Hrad), which I took in late March 2007. Note the link at the end of the description, which says, “Taken from the Karlův Most east tower.” Click the link.
You’ll get to loc.alize.us, on a page that shows the area of Prague where I took the photo, with a pink marker at the spot I tagged. You’ll also see a bunch of blue markers, where other people tagged their photos (click on the screen-capture on this page to see what it looks like). Hold your mouse over a marker, and you’ll see a thumbnail of the photo that was tagged there. Click the marker, and the thumbnail is replaced by a larger version of the photo. Hold the mouse over the photo, and you’ll see more information, and a link that takes you to the Flickr page for it.
Of course, you can zoom the map in and out. In the panes on the left, you can look through nearby photos, find specific locations or Flickr users, and so on.
Browse around; it’s fun. But, um...
...don’t waste your whole day on it!