Geotagging on Flickr: flaky

Geotagging on Flickr

Flickr launched its geo­t­ag­ging feau­ture a few days ago. Today I came across a few rav­ing posts on Tech­n­Crunch, so I decid­ed to give it a go.

I’ve been geo­t­ag­ging my pho­tos using Plazes for a while now (has it been more than a year already? This pho­to seems to prove as much.) I enjoyed doing that but it was always a bit involved. Also, geo­t­ag­ging becomes real­ly use­ful and fun once lots of peo­ple start doing it. That wasn’t real­ly hap­pen­ing yet so I’m excit­ed about Flickr inte­grat­ing it.

My first impres­sion of their map-dri­ven inter­face was pos­i­tive. It’s tucked away in the orga­nize sec­tion though; I won­der whether they’ll include some bits in the indi­vid­ual pho­to pages soon. For instance: a lit­tle map show­ing the loca­tion where the shot was tak­en and an easy way to add geo­t­ags (maybe even allow oth­ers to do it for me?) I’d like this most­ly because now the map isn’t real­ly social (in the sense that it shows an aggre­ga­tion of geo­t­agged shots, just my own.) Update: I found the social fla­vored map here; a bit under­whelm­ing, but fun.

How­ev­er: although Flickr proud­ly sports “gam­ma” at the top of its logo, the tech­nol­o­gy still lags behind. It’s beta qual­i­ty at best. New­ly tagged pho­tos don’t appear on the map after a reload; per­haps Flickr doesn’t like me chang­ing the tags out­side of the map inter­face? Update: edit­ting geo­pri­va­cy set­tings on batch­es gives back strange results too, these pho­tos should show up on the map some­where near Baarn, but they don’t. Weird…

Also, I think not being able to “snap” a batch of pho­tos to a city I found through the search inter­face is a usabil­i­ty issue. Adding pho­tos to loca­tions I haven’t iden­ti­fied in Plazes (and thus don’t show up as hotspots on the map yet) becomes arbi­trar­i­ly. Call me a meta­da­ta nut, but I real­ly want to add my pho­tos of Jurjen’s pret­ty street Zwarte­hand­spoort in Lei­den to the exact street, not drop them some­where in the vicin­i­ty of the city Leiden.

Con­clu­sion: a promis­ing addi­tion to every­ones favourite social pho­to shar­ing site, poised to make geo­t­ag­ging ready for the big time, but not exact­ly there yet due to some tech­ni­cal and design issues.

Anoth­er update: after rum­mag­ing through the help forums, I learnt that indeed, Flickr doesn’t automag­i­cal­ly pick up on new­ly geo­t­agged pho­tos from oth­er ser­vices (such as Plazes.) You need to re-import them (as described in this post). This sucks big time, Flickr seems to think that only pho­tos that have been tagged inside the sys­tem mat­ter. Think again! (Of course all this is prob­a­bly sim­ply due to tech­ni­cal lim­i­ta­tions, which is no excuse, but still…)

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Kars Alfrink

Kars is a designer, researcher and educator focused on emerging technologies, social progress and the built environment.

5 thoughts on “Geotagging on Flickr: flaky”

  1. Meta­da­ta nut! ;-)

    But I have to agree with your points. What I also don’t real­ly like is that you always need to go to the Orga­niz­er in order to add geo­da­ta to your pho­tos. For exam­ple from the Map func­tion­al­i­ty on the indi­vid­ual pho­to page you only get a view of the map, but you can­not edit any­thing (even if you are logged in to Flickr).

    I do espe­cial­ly like the Map but­ton on pho­to sets. E.g. the map of my pho­to’s of my trip to Scot­land last year.

  2. Kars, Yahoo Maps qual­i­ty is not very good for Hol­land, Google Maps is much better.

    For those who are inter­est­ed in areas not well cov­ered by Yahoo Maps, our project, Panoramio may be an option.

    In Panoramio you can locate your pho­tos via drag and drop inter­face using Google Maps. If geo­da­ta is includ­ed in EXIF pho­tos are auto­mat­i­cal­ly geolo­cat­ed. You also can watch the pho­tos in Google Earth through KML feed.

    It could be nice to hear your opin­ion about Panoramio.


  3. My cur­rent work­flow for get­ting pho­tos on a new spot on the map is:

    • Look up the place through search in the Flickr orga­nize map
    • Drop one pho­to in the gen­er­al area
    • Look up the same place on Google Maps
    • Click on link to this place
    • Copy the lon­gi­tude from the URL in the address bar
    • Back in Flickr, open up the fresh­ly placed image for editing
    • Paste the copied coor­di­nate in the first loca­tion field 
    • Go back to Google Maps and copy the latitude
    • Paste that in the sec­ond field
    • Save, watch the loca­tion of the pho­to being updated
    • Drop the rest of the pho­tos on the first one, you’ll see they snap

    If any­thing, the above is proof of two things:

    1. Yes I’m a meta­da­ta nut
    2. The Flickr inter­face for adding loca­tion to pho­tos is not exact enough for meta­da­ta nuts
  4. @Edgar: that map of your vaca­tion looks cool, have to go and make me one of those too…

    @Eduardo: I’ll be sure to check out that app of yours; thanks!

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