Blog posts tagged "geo"

The Brooklyn Problem

May 5th, 2011

I was honored to speak as part of the rapid fire keynotes Thursday morning at Where 2.0 (4/21), and gave a brief (even briefer then originally planned) talk on “The Brooklyn Problem”.

The slides:

The video:

Folks have told me they enjoyed the talk, and found it inspiring and informative, which is immensely gratifying.

I was personally frustrated with myself as I wasn’t as prepared as I like to be, and I made a number of last minute cuts from the talk that made it feel more disjointed then I liked.

This can be summarized in the #protip: When the organizers give you a chance at a dry run to get to know the stage and the equipment, do it!

Additionally I didn’t get to talk about the work of Aaron Beppu who recently joined our search team tackling relevance ranking, did the bulk of the backend work on this project as his bootcamp project, and whose final implementation is significantly more complex and interesting, or Fred Blau, who is currently working on our internationalization effort, but who rewrote our auto-complete implementation to use sequence ids instead of timing for a much smoother interface.

There’s a feed for that

January 19th, 2011

tl;dr photosnearme

I recently was added to a “People like John Resig” Twitter list. I am nothing like John Resig. In particular I suck at Javascript.

However, given the annoyance of properly constructing a Flickr geo feed URL (admittedly linked to from the bottom of every places page, but whose counting), I decided to make a script for it while waiting for the kettle this morning.

I broke out the jQuery (thanks John!) and some code from Weather Near Me, and now there is photosnearme for finding the feed of photos for the neighborhood you’re in. YMMV.

ps. I keep forgetting and having to remind myself, Chrome’s ridiculous over aggressive caching makes it totally unsuitable for development purposes. That was probably the hardest part of the script.

pps. I don’t care that RSS is dead, I still like it.

see also: other waiting for the kettle scripts

geobloggers: Flickr Photos now in Bing Maps

February 12th, 2010

“This, is what geotagging photos is all about, it’s about having enough of them, millions and millions, so that they can be thrown through complex analysis, allowing them to be matched up, combined, calculated and computed into a geo-spatal context. It’s also about people sharing the world about them. Start of mini rant: You’ll see that all these advances are made by Google and Microsoft …” – Rev. Dan Catt.

I try not to let it get to me anymore that we’ve been actively de-prioritizing geo as an axis of understanding the human experience as everyone else has been spinning it up..

WOE “GeoPlanet”: HTTP/1.1 406 Not Acceptable

November 19th, 2008

not simple polygons

Just putting a note here for the next time I’m working with the Yahoo! GeoPlanet APIs.

The conudrum: a HTTP GET on a given resource ($appid) works in the browser, and works with wget from the command line, but fails from within PHP with a 406 Not Acceptable.

The solution, append format=XML to the resource URL, because the service is blowing out its brains on a missing Accepts header.

And that folks is the magic of REST.

update 2008/12/04: quick scan of my referer logs suggests this is biting folks using lwp-simple and wget particularly hard.

Fire Eagle: Interesting Choices

March 5th, 2008

Fire Eagle

Other folks are talking about and writing about the long germinating, launched in beta, location broker from Yahoo’s Brickhouse, Fire Eagle.

I wanted to call out just a couple of the cool, and non-intuitve decisions they made.

Is NOT a consumer brand

Fire Eagle is a service for building and sharing location data. Its the application built on top of it that you’ll interact with, unless you’re building stuff.

Fire Eagle does NOT manage the social graph

Its a service for sharing your data with friends (or services, or your toaster), but it doesn’t know who your friends are. The social graph has been outsource. Best example of a small piece loosely joined I’ve seen in a long time.

Cares about privacy and ease of use

Ninja privacy is built in. But you don’t have to care. The TOS requires developers to discuss how the data is used. And privacy levels are front and center. And from day one data is delete-able, and in fact data is flushed on a regular basis.

Built on OAuth


Flickr Place IDs

January 18th, 2008

Geocoding is hard work, figuring out where exactly on this wobbly sphere a given humanly vague string might be referring to is just crazy.

Turns out there are a bunch of interesting things you can do without knowing a lot of detailed latitude, longitude stuff but instead just having an agreement that when I say “San Francisco”, and you say “San Francisco”, we’re talking about the one in California, and not somewhere else.

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”.

This post is just a quick note to the effect that as of this afternoon on top of getting place_ids back with, and being able to round trip a place_id with the flickr.places.resolvePlaceURL and flickr.places.resolvePlaceID you can now do a free form search for places with the new flickr.places.find.

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,, 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

Spook Country: Who Runs the Infrastructure?

September 15th, 2007

Am I the only person bothered while reading Spook Country with the question of who is running the servers?

Put on a VR helmet and you’re jacked into an imaginary world where artists have the sort of funding necessary to build out and run a shared platform for pushing richly textured 3D worlds over wifi.

And that server has some sort of totally smooth handshaking protocol for geolocating you, and streaming back the appropriate scene, and while everybody can publish to this unified virtual landscape, there is no hacking/jacking/spamming going on?

Or am I misreading the technology, and actually the landscapes are stored and served from hacked up WRT54Gs?