Flickr: A Place of Our Own

December 10th, 2007

You might have seen the post on the Flickr blog announcing Places, or maybe the Good Reverend’s write up, but if you haven’t:

Places is a new Flickr feature that mines our corpus of geotagged photos, identifies characteristic features on a per location basis, and then goes back into the data looking for “iconic” beautiful photos. (btw try reloading that /places page, the feature places are random. As to a certain degree are the photos on the individual Places pages themselves)

It also is where a good chunk of my creative energy went for the last few months which is why the blog has been so quiet. And its a hell of a lot of fun, not to mention a privilege and pleasure to deep dive into our database and be reminded just how much fabulous photography there is on Flickr, and maybe just barely fumble around the edges of surfacing the diverse communities shared vision. Eyes of the world indeed.

A Place for GeoRSS feeds

Dan roped me in on Places months ago. We had geoFeeds working for semi-arbitrary places, and we needed a page to hang them off of. That page looked a lot like search result. You never saw it because the Flickr project management process (a blog post of its own) left that particular prototype a bloody, heaving wreck. Don’t worry, the current version is much much much better. (of course you also never saw Dan’s brilliant prototype of the current version, which was too cool to release on an unsuspecting public) And voila, many months later, the feeds are there. (though I’d still like to bring back that SRP view to allow rich searching within a location)

Increased Surface Area

We brought a bunch of different design goals to Places, but one of my obsessions that I think we nailed was the idea of “increasing the surface area” of Flickr. (also known as providing new ways to level up in the Game of Flickr[tm]). Only a few people, and a limited range of styles will ever be featured on the Flickr Explore pages. Which is fine, most people don’t care. But Places provides another way to recognize the contributions of Flickr members, by hilighting their geotagging and their photography skills. I’m looking forward to adding a couple more similar features to Places, recognizing other Flickr Games one can level up in, and other contributions back to the commons you can make.

Mo’ Betta

A bunch of stuff didn’t make our initial launch. Some of that has come in since then. More will be coming. I’m particularly excited about using adding some new data sources to improve the page. (e.g. the Groups right now a bit weak, and we don’t have reliable neighborhoods in cities, both of which are in process of being fixed)

Thats kH8dLOubBZRvX_YZ to You

Turns out there are a lot of San Franciscos in the world, and we personally struggle to keep track of which one is which. So we’ve been experimenting with giving them unique place_ids. If you look really close you’ll start to see these popping up around flickr, in photos.getInfo, photos.search, and as microformats on the Places pages. Its all very experimental, this unique identifiers thing, but we think it might work.

Arm Chair Travel

And because I love you, I’m going to let you in a on a secret. Have a great trip.

Just beyond the door

3 Responses to “Flickr: A Place of Our Own”

  1. George says:

    “You never saw it because the Flickr project management process (a blog post of its own) left that particular prototype a bloody, heaving wreck.”

    So, umm… let’s do lunch.

  2. Very nice indeed. I did encounter a bit of confusion however because the navigation zoom controls work opposite those of a very popular geo navigation product (where ‘up’ increases zoom). There are probably UE cases to be made either way; as it would be equally logical for ‘up’ to indicate increasing altitude. It’s not a big deal, but as said product is fairly well entrenched and the overall navigation controls look quite similar I’ve a feeling that I won’t be the only person that mentions it.

  3. […] On Flickr we call these things “places”. (creative?) And as I mentioned on the Flickr API mailing list last week and in my early places blog post, places have “place ids”. […]