Geotagged photosharing on Flickr

Flickr geotagged map screenshotThis is a really cool bit of technology.

Flickr recently added — or perhaps it’s always been there and I haven’t noticed — the ability to geotag photos. Being Flickr, they’re friendy and non-jargony about it. When you’re looking at one of your own photos, “place this photo on a map” appears on the right, along with the camera type and the date the picture was taken and all the other metadata. Click it, then up pops a map and you drag a little thumbnail of your photo to the right spot. That’s all.

Once you’ve mapped your photo, “place this photo on a map” becomes “taken in Toronto, Ontario (map)”. Click the link, and you can see all your geotagged photos on the map(1).

But that’s not the cool bit.

Looking at that same map, you can choose to see everyone’s(2) geotagged photos from that area. Click my screenshot at the top of this post for a (nonfunctional, since it’s just a screenshot) example. It provides a whole new approach and an element of serendipity to exploring an area via images (from a passive perspective), somewhat like the [murmur] project does via cellphone messages. More interesting, however, is that it adds the ability to collaboratively — even with total strangers(3) — visualize and document an area (from a more active perspective).

Very interesting possibilities there.

(1) The one thing that seems to be missing is the ability to correct or delete geotags. I hope that’s in the works.

(2) There are other options, such as viewing based on date or group filters, which are pretty neat too. The group filter would enable this to be used for things like class projects or other deliberate collaborative efforts.

(3) You can see whose photos you’re looking at, of course, and can click through to the rest of the author’s photostream… which brings us back to issues of identity and privacy. You can edit the privacy settings to control who can view a photo’s location on the same page that you use to decide who can see the photo itself. So, good: you can set a photo to be viewable by all, but its location might only be viewable by friends and family.