Microsoft’s Location-Tagged Photo Database

November 25th, 2003

Yikes! How did I miss Microsoft’s release of the World-Wide Media eXchange? Microsoft calls it “a centralized index of digital photos, where photos are tagged by the geographic location where they were shot.” Developers affiliated with the Locative Media Lab and the Place Lab initiative have been discussing and working on very similar ideas for years, hoping to build out open and broad foundations for such systems before these capabilities can be locked down by narrow megacorporate interests.

As Jo Walsh put it, “interfaces and standards from meshed hyperconglomerates like Nokia and Microsoft present us with a square pinhole through which to attempt to view a potential wild and vivid world.”

It’s time to get cracking. Thanks to Scott Lederer for the wake-up call.

Phonecams: Beyond the Hype

November 19th, 2003

“Do I really need a camera attached to my mobile phone? Honestly, isn’t this just a gimmick?”

Lately I’ve fielded those questions many times over from friends and family, and even from other tech people.

Even the phonecam manufacturers don’t seem to have a clue what people will really use these things for, judging from the foolish scenarios they portray in TV commercials. But that’s typical; new technologies are never born fully-formed. Nobody knows how networked cameras will evolve, and nobody knows just how we’ll grow to use them. But special properties of networked cameras have convinced me that these tools won’t be abandoned any time soon. Some of these capabilities haven’t emerged yet but I think they’re all on the way.

Here are five important capabilities that seem unique to networked digital cameras:

1) A photographer can use such a camera to send all her photos to a single, central storage place as she takes them. This eliminates the handling of film, smart cards and other intermediary media. It means that cameras can be smaller and cheaper because they don’t need massive amounts of storage space. It dramatically simplifies problems involving backups, sorting, and after-the-fact annotation. No more rooting through PCs, CDs, servers, drawers and albums to find that great family portrait from last Thanksgiving.

No single firm or agency can or should store and control everybody’s photos. Nobody’s photos should -physically- be stored in just one facility. The media should be backed up and mirrored at multiple sites in case fires, floods or whatnot destroy the data at one site. But as far as the user is concerned, the photos should “live” in one secure spot in cyberspace. You should have just one virtual “place” to search through when seeking your photos, so that you don’t have to worry about inadvertently losing important photos, and so that you don’t have to constantly copy collected photos from one device or place to another.
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Experimental Interaction Unit

November 18th, 2003

eiu.gifThe dark side of interaction design:

Experimental Interaction Unit.