Monday, November 5, 2007

Local History Mashups

Is anyone mashing their local history material with a cartographic application, like say Google Maps or even better Wikimapia, to geolocate local history material? Something like a geolocated for local material? While browsing local history photo's (even those with corresponding addresses) I often find myself wondering, "Now where the heck is that?"

Open-sourcing the content and inviting the community to submit their own local history via an application like Wikimapia could be even better. Local history could be captured with a depth and scope that otherwise would be impossible.

Imagine how much more could be captured and saved if the entire community was involved in sharing their own stories and connecting it to place. Stories from Grandpa's shop could be shared and connected to where it once stood. Ditto on stories from Grandma's college days.

You could even share the spot where your uncles faked finding a crash-landed Skylab by dousing a lawnmower engine with gasoline and lighting it on fire - perhaps linking it to the resulting media coverage (Yes, I have to admit I know some uncles who did that....)

Hmmm, how much more of the 99% of history could be saved by visually tying it to place and enlisting the community to share their most meaningful histories.....


spinelabel said...

Great idea. I heard a presentation about mashups by Darlene Fichter at Internet Librarian 2007 and would like to try it. Our library has lots of photographs of old schools, stores, houses, even libraries that no longer exist. Plotting them on a map would not only show people what place we're talking about, it would also be another way to index them. Users could browse a geographic area asking, "What's the history of this spot?"

Patrick said...

Thanks spinelable - I like the idea of browsing the "history of this spot".

Nif said...

I have been thinking about this idea for about 5 years now and cannot find people to work with - the geohacking community is concerned with pushing forward and the people with the data are all part of libraries or non-profit orgs. Any suggestions on who to contact?

One of the main hurdles with this concept is getting that massive amount of data geolocated - but that is where the geohackers and companies like Metadata are making headway.

FYI - Philadelphia has started on something like this.

You could say I'm obsessed with the idea.

Patrick said...

Awesome - thanks for mentioning the phillyhistory link Nif. I wish I had a promising contact to pass along, but I'll try and keep the eyes open for any potential leads.