An Internet Site I’d Like To See

Despite the fact that cameras are ubiquitous, we’re still doinga terrible job capturing the photographic/video history ofthe world around us: While there’s probably over a million photosof every single animal at the zoo (sidenote: zoos should have aprofessional photographer that goes around each day taking a photoof every animal. Each of the tens of thousands of visitors canstick their memory card into a kiosk, downloading all of the day’spictures, saving themselves the trouble of trying to get “personal”photos of animals doing nothing, clouded by scratched and spit onlexan), I doubt the street in front of the zoo is archived inany reasonable form at all.

Construction happens, disaster happens, time happens, and theworld changes. Soon you’re wishing you could demonstrate how thatarea that used to be farmland is now a cityscape, or how differentthe corner looked before the hurricane, and so on, all whilewondering why you have a photo journal packed full of shoddypictures of every zoo animal.

We’re closer to this dream now that GPS-driven geocoding isstarting to appear in a small number of products, coupled withutilities and web applications allow you to manually Geocode photos(the former is enormously more useful than the latter. People justaren’t good at manual processes when their buy-in is marginal,especially highly precise applications like longitude/latitude).This is useful in that sites like Flickr are now allowing you tosearch and view pictures by geographic location, so there mightcome a future point when every street corner is covered. I wrote about my wish for this a year ago.

Now we need to do the same thing with video.

While the individual frames of video are lower in quality andresolution than a good quality digital camera, it does have thebenefit of many, many frames, making it much more likely thata subject of interest will be caught.

It would be interesting to have a site where users cancontribute “street videos” – A video tour down blocks and streets,categorized by time taken, direction, speed, and of course street(preferably segmented out by blocks). You could make a “trip” bycombining the videos of many people. As years pass you’d be able tocontrast videos years or decades apart.

There are plenty of practical uses as well: Most days I drivethrough a complex interchange (sometimes called “the junction”)here in the GTA. It’s a poorly laid out set of split-offs requiringlast second lane changes for people who aren’t accustomed to it,and every day (every couple of seconds, actually) some touristysort slows to 20km/h while they try to come to grips with all ofthe signs, causing traffic chaos for thousands. It’d be nice ifthey could do a “trial run” through the interchanges video videoclips.

I don’t have the time or the inclination to make such a site, sothere you go: A free idea! Then again, don’t people claim thatideashave no value ayways?