App a Week #2 – Historical Narratives

I remember a conversation with Chris shortly before I got interested in iPhone development where he was talking about the idea of the “layers” of geoplaced information that are available floating around us. Whenever a person with an enabled device sends a tweet, or updates their Facebook page, or uploads a photo to Flickr, attached to the data is a location coordinate – the data belongs to the user, but also to the place. Matthew Kwan at RMIT is even working on a geo-location standard for SMS.

Chris’ idea was that one day soon it will be possible to stand in a particular location and using your mobile device, track the data history of a place – an augmented reality layer that we have (perhaps accidentally) added to the world.

Information is being attached to places, and that information combined with place is a public historical narrative that we are adding to all the time.

So for this week’s App a Week project I’m interested in building a simple iPad app that explores the idea of historical narratives, using Flickr’s geo-search API.

Visually I’m using two primary sources of inspiration.The first is Eric Fischer’s “Locals and Tourists” analysis of flickr users based on an interesting concept – he analysed geo location data for photos in a series of cities and using a time-based algorithm divided them in to “tourists” and “locals” – with fascinating results:

Locals and Tourists #5 (GTWA #20): Tokyo

The other is Isao Hashimoto’s artwork “1945-1988”, an animation tracking the history of nuclear explosions around the world – a really effective way to present some rather shocking historical data:

My app idea is still a little vague at the moment, but it will become much more concrete soon – I need to start programming if I’m going get something finished by Friday…