On Geocoding

The other day, as part of making a point about punctuation, I sent B-don an image that featured the latitude and longitude of his house. Well, I should say it approximated those coordinates, because I sort of “guesstimated” using Google Map’s satellite map navigation, and then lopped off a few figures for good measure.

I needn’t have bothered, because yesterday I discovered a new service: Geocoder.us. Using TIGER line data from the U.S. Census, you can specify an address and get the coordinates. Pop those coordinates into GeoURL, and things start to get interesting: you’ll find a list of sites that concern points nearest those coordinates.

Most of them are blogs and weather, and the GeoURL db is quite sparse as far as locations near my neck of the woods is concerned, but think for a moment of the possibilities if this sort of thing was widespread: You could “geocode” your blogged complaints about Best Buy with the location of the store. You could tag your Web photos with the coordinates of where they were taken. You could hide something, record its coordinates, and make a “You’re getting warmer…” page…

It may become easier than you think. Last year Microsoft gave a hiker a camera with the ability to record GPS coordinates with each snap, an ability that I expect might show up in cell phones before long. Apple, if one alleged insider is to be believed, has even more ambitious plans. Imagine a PowerBook with built-in GPS:

What’s next? We’re going to find new ways of attaching automatic metadata. Here’s one we’ve been talking about a lot: Your laptop has a GPS receiver in it. Tiny thing, about the size of a pencil eraser. At all times, your laptop knows where it is on the face of the Earth, accurate to about thirty feet.

Every file you create is tagged with three new, additional pieces of metadata: latitude, longitude and altitude. That’s on top of the date and time data we already attach to every file.

Say you go on a business trip to Seattle. A year later, you can search your laptop for that e-mail you sent to your coworker Tom while you were in Seattle.

I think the ability to go to a spot and say “Internet, what can you tell me about this place?” and to have photos, musings, reviews, work you created when you were last there and more be pulled from all sorts of online content would just rock. Of course, organizing all that would be a whole different challenge…

3 Responses to “On Geocoding”

  1. meq Says:

    get up get up get busy

    all talk, no action

    i’d like to see you making millions from all these ideas
    not some lousy ibm dude who i don’t know and can’t fly me to come see you

    hop to it!

  2. The Amazing Mr. Pech Says:

    During my stint as pizza delivery schmuck I began to fantasize about ways to get back at the numerous shitty tippers in the world. I wanted to create a website where delivery drivers from all over the world could catalog the bad tips in a giant database. Then people could look up who is a bad tipper, and hopefully shun them. In my wildest fantasies, the site would become so popular that people wouldn’t buy houses from shitty tippers thereby affecting the ass holes pocketbook.(no, I was not a happy guy at that time). This kind of thing could actually help automate that, cool I imagine pizza dudes with location logging cameras taking a pic of the place, embedding the bad tip info, and then using the city wide wifi to automatically upload to the site. Within minutes the world would know who is a horrible person. OOOH and it could automatically email all the neighbors, that would be soo awesome. Anyway, shitty tippers should be publicly humiliated, in public, repeatedly.

  3. jsp Says:

    Yowzers! “Bitter, party of one, your table is ready. Bitter…?”

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