Location + Image

It’s time to test out some tools for “visualizing” the visual data I’m working with from this residency.

Phase #1: I’ve taken the time to add geotags to all my photos, using the Flickr map tool. Many of the photos include brief (or long!) text descriptions, and the majority were manually retitled (otherwise they’d get boring camera-assigned numbers instead of names).

Phase #2 involves trying to “see” the photos as a layer of info, on a map. I’ve researched a number of tools for doing this.  Here’s a brief summary — I’d appreciate feedback.

Flickr has internal mapping and set-viewing tools, but each interface has limitations, and some are downright tricky. Currently, for example, there are 1,451 geotagged items in my set “Badlands Artist Residency.” You can view the set this way, through a humble link:


The set can also be embedded as a Flickr slideshow:


Some folks love Flickr slideshows; others find them frustrating. You be the judge (and please let me know what you think). The Flickr slideshow has some nice points (like hiding/showing the descriptions) but doesn’t show the map data.

Flickr can show photos on a map, but please note: like most geomap tools for photos, the count keeps changing, depending on your level of zoom. It seems to recount every time you move or zoom, based on the portion of the map visible. Hard to get used to. Flickr also aggregates the number of images: at an overview level (eg: all of South Dakota visible), you will see a single pink dot — meaning: there are over a thousand photos here, come closer and we’ll give you more info. As you zoom in, more dots appear, but again they are aggregated, or clustered, until you get much closer. I feel you need to get TOO close before dots appear. Important: as you zoom/move the map, there is a small green (circling arrows) “reload” icon, near the “Search This Map” box. Click to reload icons and recount. I click it repeatedly. As I see it, there is a problem with this: the user sees dots representing larger numbers of images, but where there are just a few scattered photos, no dots appear, leading you to think none are there. Well, enough caveats, I still think it’s an amazing visualization tool. You can also navigate using the preview bar of images, arrowing through, or doing a subsearch for tags like “bison” or “paleosols.” Here’s the link to viewing all photos tagged with “abookmadeofsoil” as a Flickr Map:

Here’s a test of the Loc.alize.us interface, which pulls geotagged photos from the set “Badlands Sketches” and drops them onto a googlemap layer, which you can click/zoom to navigate. At a glance, it will tell you there are 22 sketches, for example. As you zoom in, the number gets smaller. This can sometimes be confusing. What do you think? Here’s the direct link:

Another visualization tool is Fluidr, which thinks of itself as an alternative format for viewing Flickr images. The map view, in Fluidr, can be clicked next to each photo, showing you a clean detail of the location I assigned in Flickr. Here’s a snapshot (static — just to show):

Here’s the link to viewing the “Badlands Artist Residency” set on Fluidr (no embed yet, but that feature will be coming, I think). Important tip: think of Fluidr as a bottomless window… it loads medium-sized images, approximately 8 at a time, and loads more as you move through. To jump to the next image, just tap the SPACEBAR on your keyboard.


I’ve also tried this small hack of GoogleMap. Instead of entering a location to search for, I’m giving it geofeed (RSS) data from Flickr, and specifying the unique tag “abookmadeofsoil.”
It seems limited to showing just a few items — the most recent uploads — but I like the way the image balloon pops up on the map, and I know how to modify that (if I want to go with a Flickr map interface, stylized text, adding quotations, fragments of poems I’m working on, etcetera). Simple but perhaps I will be able to tweak it further.

View Larger Map

Finally, I’ll make note of a wonderful mashup tool I’d intended to use for my project, called iMapFlickr. Unfortunately, there is currently a limit of 500 photos per iMapFlickr map, making it difficult for me to use. But here is an example (500):

Again, I would really appreciate feedback.


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