Monday, October 29, 2007

Geotagging with Picasa Web Albums

Here is a proof-of-concept post: my Picasa Web Album of Historical Sites in the Spokane region. This came out of a drive that Bill and I did last summer to find the Mullan Road marker south of Cheney. I put the photos we took that day along with some others into a Picasa web album, and then used the geotagging feature to create a Google Map that displays the photos. (Note: I did not keep perfect notes on my GPS positions for some of these and I may not have them exactly right on the map.)

I am still experimenting with the features but I am really excited about the potential. Photos can be tagged so that a user could sort to view only those tagged with Indians or transportation or schools. There are comments as well as captions so visitors to the site can add information. And you can export the album into Google Earth.

I think it is possible to share a Picasa Web Album via a Google Group. The album would them become a wiki of historic photos taken by dozens of users throughout the area. And of course historic photos could be imported as well.


Mary said...

Neat map, Larry! I really think that these geographic websites will provide a cool new way to envision history.

The Washington State Library is also experimenting with this type of mapping on Platial. While Platial does allow you to incorporate pictures, it's definitely a little bit more clunky. I like the social networking aspect of it though.

Mary @ WSL

Larry Cebula said...

Thanks, Mary.

There are quite a few options for combining images and map--I blogged a little about this before. Flickr also offers a geotagging option for your photos. Most intriguing are some of the options for Google Earth., as you can see at the History Illustrated Google Earth Community. I am planning a local history seminar right now where the students will create a Google Earth layer for our region, based on the excellent Lexington Kentucky: the Athens of the West layer. Also within Google Earth and Maps is the new Panoramio service.

The disadvantage to using Google Earth is that your audience needs to have the program loaded on their computers. It is free, but it is a big, resource hungry program. I am afraid that it might discourage many viewers. To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you do public history with the public we have, not the public you wish you had.

Lucia said...

Good to see someone appreciating my Historical Lexington, Kentucky layer!


Larry Cebula said...

Hey Lucia! Your layer is wonderful, I have shown it to several groups of students. In fact my intern Derrick has been in touch with you, and has told me again and again how helpful and generous you have been. We are working on our own Google Earth layer here and I will let you know when it is finished.

Lucia said...

I'll look forward to seeing them. I'm a Jane Austen enthusiastic among other things and was surprised at how much following her trails through cyberspace gave me a better appreciation for her.