Monday, October 16, 2006

GeoLocating Reality

As a professional map-jockey I couldn't be more tickled by the ubiquity of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) these days.

Once Google purchased Keyhole (Google Earth) there has been a deluge of locationally aware applications on the market. Google Earth was followed up by brilliant AJAX mapping applications by the big two of our generation. No not Ford and Chevy, but Yahoo and Google. The internet was a start, but these are true flatteners.

A year ago I started using Google Maps to geolocate videos for Pierre Terre Productions and spatial information at my day job. While I have access to GIS software, I've discovered Google Maps is simply a more intuitive interface for most people.

While I was proud of my efforts, they look plebeian next to the latest releases of the big two's image management software: Picassa 2 and Flickr Gamma.

I tested the two of them today while documenting my Whitetail Peak climb. For the time being I'd say Flickr is the winner. Flickr is simply elegant and an amazing example of what can be done within the constraints of a web browser.

Don't get me wrong, Picassa is excellent and their geotagging application is slightly more intuitive. The integration with Picassa desktop is seamless and makes me wish I could download Flickr desktop for similar functionality. And for clueless photoshop monkeys like me the "I'm Feeling Lucky" photo-correction button in Picassa is pure magic.

In the end though, what wins it for Flickr is the ability to share maps of photos with others in a web browser. I don't want to have to open another application. If however, Picassa were to copy Flickr and slap their photos on a Google Map in a format I could share with the world, my conclusion may just reverse.

I'll keep using them both, at least until I burn up my free bandwidth.

Feel free to compare, here's the same photoset in both worlds:


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