Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Something old, something new...

This is an update of a previous EduFlickr post on geotagging (the "something old") and a new Flickr toy I found (the "something new") which I don't think is educationally useful, but is good fun!

Surfers
Surfers,
originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
In my geotagging post, I recommended Geotagr as a good tool for geotagging pictures. I must admit, I still like this site. It is simple to use and it works. However, it does involve going to another site and doing a bit of cutting and pasting.

The Localize Bookmarklet is therefore a good alternative since this allows geotagging directly from the Flickr page and does almost all the hard work for you. However, sometimes I seem to lose the ability to see the map with this bookmarklet (which is a fairly major problem).

A third option is to install the Google Maps in Flickr (GMiF) extension in your browser but I find it almost impossible to position the marker on the map exactly where I want it to go (again a fairly major problem). What I like about it though, is that you can link to a map mashup at Yuan.CC Maps which shows not just the location, but a thumbnail of the picture too. (See for example the link from my Munich Surfers photo or my GeoStream.) Note: You can use a Yuan.CC link in Flickr even if you don't use GMiF to tag the photo. For example, I used Geotagr to create the Munich Surfer tags, but then replaced the automatically generated link with a link to Yuan.CC so that I could get the thumbnail on the map effect.

However, Flickr has now just trumped the lot by providing its own, built in, geotagging tool! It's fairly easy to use, it works well and it provides the thumbnail on the map view that I like. In general, I like it... well, I like it with the following caveats. Firstly, the tool is tucked away in the Organize section - so it's not exactly obvious. By way of contrast, GMiF adds itself to the end of the tools that are displayed above the picture which seems to me a much more sensible place to be.

Secondly, it doesn't exactly add tags to your picture, at least not visible ones like geo:lat=48.143361. What it does instead, is hide this data in the "Additional Information" section along with the picture's other properties (such as the date it was taken). At first I was a bit miffed by this, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it was a good idea. In general, you create a tag to allow yourself and other people to find your pictures. However, geotags are written to be machine readable so it makes sense to hide them with other machine readable data. If I want to search for photos near a specific location, then a map interface (such as the one provided in Flickr) is a more natural way to do it. The only thing that I'm still miffed about is that (as far as I can see) it is not currently possible to access the latitude and longitude data. I don't want to see all the EXIF data created by my camera, but if I was an Art teacher, maybe I would - and Flickr gives me a link that lets me check it if I want (see for example the data for my surfer picture) but hides it behind a link so that I can ignore it if I want. If I were a Maths or Geography teacher, I suspect there are times when I'd still want to see the latitude and longitude data, but at the moment I don't think I can. Also, at the moment, third party tools (such as the excellent FlickrFly) rely on there being visible tags and so will not work with the internally generated geotags. However, hopefully it will not be long before third party developers start to use the Flickr generated data instead of relying on tags.

Thirdly, and I think this is the most annoying, the map tool used by Flickr is Yahoo Maps. Of course, I understand why they have used Yahoo, but currently its satellite images are extraordinarily poor. It is perhaps understandable (although still disappointing) that parts of the north of Scotland are poorly represented, but Glasgow is barely a smudge on the satellite landscape! (No cheeky comments from Endinburgh please!) Hopefully this will be addressed by Yahoo in the near future.

So that's the update on something old - geotagging. Building it into Flickr is generally a good thing and it is a service that will hopefully get even better soon.

The something new is a new Flickr Toy I found: The Profile Widget. I'll quote from the widget's page...
DavidDMuir. Get yours at flagrantdisregard.com/flickr
Enter your Flickr username, email, or user ID and this nifty little gadget will create a customized image that you can paste into your profile page (or any other web page) that will automatically update itself every hour. It shows a selection of ten of your photos and some statistics about your Flickr usage. It's the perfect accessory for every Flickr addict.
Although it is called a "Profile Widget" (I have added one to my profile on Flickr) it can be used on any web page (for example in this blog post). As I said, I don't think it is particularly educationally useful (although if pushed I could probably invent an educational justification) I just thought it was a fun way to summarise and display the extent of your addiction to Flickr. :-)

Enjoy!


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3 comments:

Eduardo Manchon said...

David,

You are right, Flickr doesn't make really geotagging, but the interface is really brilliant, you can "geotagg" 200 photos in 1 minute. For many people this kind of "geotagging" is good enough.

However for some users and scenarios accuracy can be important, so it may be better to have real geotagged photos. Actually this is our perspective in our project Panoramio, a community of geolocated photos over Google Maps.

You can geolocate your photos via drag and drop interface, but if the photo already has geodata in EXIF is automatically located.

Apart from the superior quality of Google Maps for many places like Scotland, another advantage of using Google Maps is that you can watch the photos in Google Earth (KML feed), a much better user experience than web based maps. You even can add a mini-panoramio to your site.

David, because you are a teacher involved very much in this subject, I would love to hear what you think about Panoramio.

Thanks, regards

Eduardo

David said...

Hello Eduardo

Thank you for pointing me to this site. I've signed up and posted my first picture. :-)

I think it is an interesting site. It is certainly easier to position the marker pin than it is in GMiF. The only complaint I'd have about that side of things is that it would be nice to be able to toggle to a bigger map.

I like the way that the map is displayed beside the picture and then when you go to the map other nearby pictures are shown beside the map.

I'll certainly keep an eye on developments.

alexanderhayes said...

Hi David,

I'm not one for emails so ultimately I'm happy to communicate through this medium and others.

I've been pooling some things related to web 2.0 and mlearning over at
http://del.icio.us/alexanderhayes

Much of my rants and connected learning community is located at http://www.nswlearnscope.com

Your closest allay your way is http://www.al4ie.com/

Another newbie rising in the ranks is Leonard over at http://mlearning.edublogs.org

Lets keep the conversation going and perhaps we could ramp up http://mapplications.blogspot.com a little......hey ....it's sat silent for a while but its been fun !

I've been flat out with the educational side of it all that my blogs falling by the way side - I'm up in Byron bay at present - http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/nswlearnscope06

Whats happening visually your way at present ?