Open Context & Carleton Prize for Archaeological Visualization

Increasingly, archaeology data are being made available openly on the web. But what do these data show? How can we interrogate them? How can we visualize them? How can we re-use data visualizations?

We’d like to know. This is why we have created the Open Context and Carleton University Prize for Archaeological Visualization and we invite you to build, make, hack, the Open Context data and API for fun and prizes.

Who Can Enter?

Anyone! Wherever you are in the world, we invite you to participate. All entries will be publicly accessible and promoted via a context gallery on the Open Context website.


The prize competition is sponsored by the following:

  • The Alexandria Archive Institute (the nonprofit that runs Open Context)
  • The Digital Archaeology at Carleton University Project, led by Shawn Graham


We have prizes for the following categories of entries:

  • Individual entry: project developed by a single individual
  • Team entry: project developed by a collaborative group (2-3 people)
  • Individual student entry: project developed by a single student
  • Student team entry: project developed by a team of (2-3) students


All prizes are awarded in the form of cash awards or gift vouchers of equivalent value. Depending on the award type, please note currency:

  • Best individual entry: $US200
  • Best team entry (teams of 2 or 3): $US300 (split accordingly)
  • Best student entry: $C200
  • Best student team entry (teams of 2 or 3): $C300 (split accordingly)

We will also note “Honorable Mentions” for each award category.

Entry Requirements

We want this prize competition to raise awareness of open data and reproducible research methods by highlighting some great examples of digital data in practice. To meet these goals, specific project entry requirements include the following:

  • The visualization should be publicly accessible/viewable, live on the open Web
  • The source code should be made available via Github or similar public software repository
  • The project needs to incorporate and/or create open source code, under licensing approved by the Free Software Foundation.
  • The source code must be well-commented and documented
  • The visualization must make use of the Open Context API; other data sources may also be utilized in addition to Open Context
  • A readme file should be provided (as .txt or .md or .rtf), which will include:
    • Instructions for reproducing the visualization from scratch must be included
    • Interesting observations about the data that the visualization makes possible
    • Documentation of your process and methods (that is to say, ‘paradata’ as per theLondon Charter, section 4)

All entries have to meet the minimum requirements described in ‘Entry Requirements’ to be considered.

Entries are submitted by filling a Web form ( that will ask you for your particulars and the URL to your ‘live’ entry and the URL to your code repository. You will also be required to attest that the entry is your own creation.

Important Dates

  • Closing date for entry submissions: December 16, 2016
  • Winners announced: January 16, 2017

Criteria for Judging

  • Potential archaeological insight provided by the visualization
  • Reproducibility
  • Aesthetic impact
  • Rhetorical impact
  • Appropriate recognition for/of data stakeholders (creators and other publics)

Attention will be paid in particular to entries that explore novel ways of visualizing archaeological data, or innovative re-uses of data, or work that takes advantage of the linked nature of Open Context data, or work that enables features robust/reproducible code for visualizations that could be easily/widely applied to other datasets.


The judges for this competition are drawn from across the North America:


Simple Omeka to Wikitude Hack

I’m working on some projects at the moment, aiming to make augmented reality and cultural heritage discovery easier and gentler for the small scale historical society, student groups, etc: folks with a basic level of web literacy, but no real great level of programming skills.

To that end, here’s something one can do with Omeka, to push items from its database into the Wikitude augmented reality platform.

  1. In Omeka, have the Geolocation plugin installed and working.
  2. Navigate to http://[your omeka]/geolocation/map.kml
  3. You should see the xml structure of your geolocated items.
  4. In a new tab, go to, and sign up for a developer account (it’s free).
  5. Click ‘add new world’.
  6. Click ‘upload KML file’.
  7. Fill in all required fields (you’ll have to create a 32 by 32 pixel icon to serve as a dot-on-the-map, and upload that too).
  8. Under ‘KML/KMZ’ file, click on ‘Enter KML URL’. This will give you a box into which you may paste the URL from #2.
  9. Hit save.

If you’re successful, the next screen will tell you how many points have been uploaded. If, at some later point you’ve added many more items to Omeka, you’ll have to go back to your World in Wikitude and hit save again, to upload the most recent stuff.

Now, with Wikitude on your phone, you might not be able to find your world right away. There’s a solution. If you log back into the Wikitude developer zone, and click on the world you just created, you’ll find a string of letters under ‘developer key’. On your Iphone, go to ‘settings’ , select ‘Wikitude’. Under ‘Developer Settings’, there’s a box for the developer key. Enter that developer key there. Start Wikitude up, refresh the display, and your items from Omeka will be under ‘Around Me’.

…And there you have it. Right now, this just does the basic text descriptions, and the location. By fiddling with the Geolocation plugin code, one might be able to add the other information that Wikitude can display, like images, video, audio, etc.

For a similar approach, but directly from Google Maps, see this video by drmonkeyjcg:

Tales of Things

Just seen:

Wouldn’t it be great to link any object directly to a ‘video memory’ or an article of text describing its history or background? Tales of Things allows just that with a quick and easy way to link any media to any object via small printable tags known as QR codes. How about tagging your old antique clock, a building, or perhaps that object you’re about to put on eBay.

They have a free iPhone app to allow you to “scan, comment, and add location to things”.  Cliocaching, anyone?

Digital Research Tools Wiki

I came across the DiRT page this morning, run by Lisa Spiro. What an awesome resource! If you know of tools that are useful in your own research, suggest them to Lisa and get them listed on this page. From the front:

This wiki collects information about tools and resources that can help scholars (particularly in the humanities and social sciences) conduct research more efficiently or creatively.  Whether you need software to help you manage citations, author a multimedia work, or analyze texts, Digital Research Tools will help you find what you’re looking for. We provide a directory of tools organized by research activity, as well as reviews of select tools in which we not only describe the tool’s features, but also explore how it might be employed most effectively by researchers.

Please provide feedback on DiRT and recommend tools not included here (yet).

If you’re interested in contributing to this wiki, please email Lisa Spiro at  Please see Guidelines for Contributors to learn how to add new information to the wiki.

I love how it is organized by asking what it is you want to do.  While focussed on the humanities and social sciences, there is a distinct lack of Agent Modeling or other simulation tools, which I suppose indicates that simulation hasn’t made great inroads amongst the digital humanities set yet.

Some great dynamic map tools though!


  • ArcGIS: “an integrated collection of GIS software products that provides a standards-based platform for spatial analysis, data management, and mapping” (Commercial, Windows)
  • GeoNames: “GeoNames geographical database covers all countries and contains over eight million placenames that are available for download free of charge.” (Free, web-based)
  • Google Earth: “Google Earth lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, from galaxies in outer space to the canyons of the ocean. You can explore rich geographical content, save your toured places, and share with others.” (Free, with Pro version available; PC/Mac/Linux)
  • Google Maps: allows you to view maps and directions, with practical applications for transportation and diverse viewing options to further specify location (Free, web-based)
  • Open Street Map: “a free, editable map of the whole world…allows you to view, edit and use geographical data in a collaborative way from anywhere on Earth” (Free, web-based)
  • Platial: “the world’s largest social map service…hundreds of thousands of people around the world share and discover all kinds of Places. Anyone can map just about anything including their towns, lives, travels, feeds, files, photos, video and stories in one simple interface…Maps are free and can be embedded on any Web page” (Free, web-based)
  • TimeMap: A Java-based client-server/standalone temporal mapping applet for distributed datasets, developed by the Archaeological Computing Laboratory at the University of Sydney (Open Source or support license)
  • UUorld: a program that “provides an immersive mapping environment, high-quality data, and critical analysis tools” through the production of four-dimensional, interactive maps (Free, with Pro version available; Windows/Mac/Linux)
  • Yahoo! Map Mixer: allows you to create your own basic map, view maps and directions, and search existing maps (Free, web-based)


Examples of Usage:

  • PoliMap: Will Riley’s students gathered location data about politicians using a Google spreadsheet and mapped it on a Google Map



Visualisation in Archaeology

An interesting project hosted by Southampton in the UK and English Heritage – see the full website here. They’re hosting what looks to be a fascinating wee conference in October:

Visualisation In Context:
An Interplay of Practice and Theory

22 – 23 October 2009
Hosted by the University of Southampton

The 2009 VIA Workshop is designed to probe the intersections between theory (which might traditionally be represented in terms of critique – linear and written) and practice (which might increasingly be expressed in terms of production – non-linear and visual) within the field of archaeology as well as other disciplines from the humanities and the sciences.

Check out the VIA  showcase:

Online Research Showcase
Centred on the visualisation of data in both archaeology and the wider fields of the social sciences, arts, and science and technology studies. Like the bibliography, these summaries aim to link practitioners across disciplines, highlight innovative visual projects, and offer a platform for future planning and discussion of best practices around archaeological visual method and theory.
Click to view full entry and abstract... Archaeology and Community Museology: Ancient Egyptian Daily Life Scenes in Museums
Gemma Tully
University of Southampton
Click to view full entry and abstract... Choreographic Morphologies: Interdisciplinary Crossovers in the Use of Digital Visualisation Methods in Dance and Archaeology
Helen Bailey, Stuart Dunn, James Hewison, Martin Turner
King’s College London
University of Bedfordshire
University of Manchester
Click to view full entry and abstract... Fractured Media: Challenging the Dimensions of Archaeology’s Typical Visual Modes of Engagement
Sara Perry
University of Southampton
Click to view full entry and abstract... Framing Machu Picchu: Science, Photography and the Making of Patrimony
Amy Cox
University of Florida
Click to view full entry and abstract... Imag(in)ing the Other at Dura-Europos
Jennifer Baird
Birkbeck College, University of London
Click to view full entry and abstract... Institutionalising Images: Early Visualisation Networks in Aegean Archaeology
Deborah Harlan
University of Sheffield
Click to view full entry and abstract... Interactive Panoramas and 3D Modelling Based on Panoramas
Karol Kwiatek, Martin Woolner, Simon Standing, Jes Martens
University of Plymouth, Institute of Creative and Cultural Industries
University of Oslo, Norway, Museum of Cultural History
Click to view full entry and abstract... OKAPI Island in Second Life
Ruth Tringham, Noah Wittman, Colleen Morgan
University of California, Berkeley
Click to view full entry and abstract... Pervasive Gaming, Education, and Cultural Heritage: Emplaced Interpretive Games at the Presidio of San Francisco
Ruth Tringham, Colleen Morgan
University of California, Berkeley
The Presidio Archaeology Lab
Click to view full entry and abstract... Reflexive Representations: The Partibility of Archaeology
Andrew Cochrane, Ian Russell
Cardiff University
University College Dublin
Click to view full entry and abstract... Representing Prehistory: The Biographies of the Robenhausen Lake Dwelling Collections at the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (2008-2009)
Katherine Cooper
University of Cambridge
Click to view full entry and abstract... SahulTime: Rethinking Archaeological Representation in the Digital Age
Matthew Coller
Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
Click to view full entry and abstract... Scandalous Artefacts
Alessandro Zambelli
Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London
Click to view full entry and abstract... Strategies of Visualisation in German Archaeology, 19th-20th C
Stefanie Klamm
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
Humboldt University, Berlin
Click to view full entry and abstract... The Archaeological Eye: Visualisation and the Disciplinary Foundations of British Archaeology
Sara Perry
University of Southampton
Click to view full entry and abstract... The Gateway to Sarup
Niels H. Andersen, Maria Isenbecker, Camilla Bjarnø, Jan Solheim
Moesgård Museum, DenmarkSamsøgades Skole, Denmark
Supported by the Danish Ministry of Culture and the Danish Ministry of Education
Click to view full entry and abstract... The Remediated Places Project
Ruth Tringham, Michael Ashley, Steve Mills, Eric Blind, Jason Quinlan, Colleen Morgan
University of California, Berkeley

Historical Maps, GIS, and Second Life

I’ve just come across a presentation (in three parts) given by David Rumsey, over a year ago. Worth a view!

“A talk given by David Rumsey at the March 6, 2008 launch of his historical map library and exhibition in the virtual world of Second Life. The talk was delivered at the Rumsey Map Islands in Second Life. All of the maps in the talk can also be seen and downloaded from Rumsey’s free online map library at

Part I

Part II

Part III

PMOG is now the Nethernet

Pm0g – the passive multiplayer online game – has gone in for some rebranding, calling itself ‘The Nethernet’.

I rather like the term, ‘nethernet’, as it implies a game played in some sort of metaspace outside (above/below/beside) the regular ol’ internet.

However, in the transition, Nethernet has lost some of the old steampunk aesthetic and charm that Pmog had – whereas before there were scrolls popping up inside your browser, and neo-victorian characters assaulting/assisting you, now there is the same-old same-old web2.0-ish vibe. No doubt the game runs better and is more secure this way, but I rather liked the old charm.

For old time’s sake, here are my missions made back in the Pmog 0.4 era (and rejigged to run under the new regime):

“How in the world can I find sources on the motivations of ancient Olympic athletes?? Maybe if you told me what to read, then I could answer the question.” read the email. The prof looked away from his computer, groaning inwardly. And no doubt, just parrot back to me a webpage, he thought. Why do students expect to be spoon-fed everything? “Follow me. First, let us search ‘ancient olympics’ properly. Where would you go first, O student at the University of Manitoba with its excellent library resources?’

Ruins on a Distant Planet

4 stars!
created by doctorg 9 days ago

New long range telescopes have identified a distant, inhabitable planet. There appears to have once been intelligent life…

Who Killed William Robinson?

4 stars!
created by doctorg 11 months ago

Between 1867 and 1868, a tiny community at the north end of Salt Spring Island, populated by about 25 families, was the scene of three brutal and seemingly unconnected murders. But were they really unconnected? All of the victims were members of the island’s Black community and all of the murders were blamed on Aboriginal people. Two of the murders were officially unsolved. In the case of William Robinson, an all-White jury found an Aboriginal man, Tshuanahusset, guilty of killing the Black settler and sentenced him to death. Was Tshuanahusset guilty? Why was he convicted? If Tshuanahusset did not kill William Robinson, who did? (Great Canadian Mysteries, by John Lutz and Ruth Sandwell)

Archaeology: Let’s Build Something New

Colleen throws down the gauntlet:

We must interfere in the public’s understanding in the past. Change it. Surprise, enlighten, destroy when necessary and rebuild a better, stronger, more curious and more passionate interest in what we do. This is my charge to myself and to other archaeologists and to anyone who wants to join us.

What are you doing to Participate?

Good question. What am I doing? At the very least, I hope that what I write in this blog rises to that challenge. Rob MacDougall, in his tribute to Digital History Hacks, writes

…one meta-idea which Bill [read his work now! – SG] taught me is that the loftiest questions about what we do are not separate from the nuts and bolts of how we do it. As above, so below: lofty philosophical issues are practical technical questions and vice versa. Change the tools available to the humanities and you have the opportunity to rethink what the humanities are.

That’s what I aspire to do. I try to find the leading edge of what’s happening in new media, tech, games, society at large, and I try to wonder, intelligently, about how these things intersect with archaeology. Sometimes, it’s archaeology at the edge, sometimes not. Bill is passionate about getting historians to do their own coding. Archaeologists should do the same. Moreover, Bill’s pushing the historians and the humanities people more generally to get into making the digital devices themselves:

In my new research program, I’m exploring ways to build historical interpretations into physical devices and environments. This work is backward looking, in the sense that it engages with the histories of measurement, materials science and machine tools. It is also very present-minded, since I am approaching the project as a form of critical technical practice, building on new developments in ubiquitous / pervasive computing and desktop fabrication. To support this work, I have put together a modest Lab for Humanistic Fabrication with an associated Fabrication Wiki.

Read the wiki. Let’s build something!

At the very least, why not let’s try an open-source approach and make the most excellent Iphone Archaeology App ever? (Link thanks to Colleen)

Tweeting Archaeology

I don’t tweet.

However, like much else on the web, once the idea is out there, people have taken it and run with it. A round-up article from Wired discusses some of the interesting ways people have hacked the service, from a washing machine that tweets when its cycle is over, to house plants that tweet begging to be watered, to a fellow who can turn on his lights from his cell phone by tweeting his house.

An excavation/site/monument that tweeted if visited/disturbed after visiting hours? Hmm.

I also quite liked a related story where Vik Singh of Yahoo! created a mashup that searches tweets for breaking news:

TweetNews takes Yahoo’s news results and compares them to emerging topics on Twitter, in effect using what’s most popular on Twitter as an index for determining the importance of news stories.

In other words, TweetNews uses Twitter to rank stories that are so new they may not have enough inbound links for algorithm-based ranking systems to prioritize them.

The result is a search engine mashup that tracks breaking news stories ranked by Twitter search results, offering faster updates, better relevance and more in-depth coverage than either source by itself.

In a blog post explaining the ideas behind TweetNews, Singh outlines the frustration many felt when searching for news on the Mumbai attacks: “Twitter messages were providing incredible focus on the important subtopics that had yet to become popular in the traditional media… what I found most interesting… was that news articles did exist on these topics, but just weren’t valued highly enough yet.”

So, here’s the TweetNews on Archaeology; and for those who have trouble with dipthongs, the TweetNews on Archeology .  We have archaeological blog aggregators… should we be aggregating tweets too? Do you tweet? Why, and how can you extend it to something bigger/better?

The original post describing how the service works – and the source code!! – is here. Vingh concludes:

There’s something very interesting here … Twitter as a ranking signal for search freshness may prove to be very useful if constructed properly. Definitely deserves more exploration – hence this service, which took < 100 lines of code to represent all the search logic thanks to Yahoo! BOSS, Twitter’s API, and the BOSS Mashup Framework.

Results of my TweetNews search this morning:

  • At Nimrud, decay is accelerating for 3,000 years of history.
    2009/02/10 22:01:56
  • 1 Related Tweets
  • ChristineFarmer
    @NevadaSlim thanks :) No, I have a PhD in Ancient History and Archaeology.
  • LAist
    LAist couldn’t resist doing a little shopping at The House of Love and Luck on La Cienega just north of Largo at the Coronet. This gorgeous new vintage jewelry store opened six weeks ago. Walk inside to find a treasure trove of beautiful necklaces, rings, bracelets and more. Every item in the store …
    2009/02/10 19:15:00
  • The Wenatchee World
    OLYMPIA Gov. Chris Gregoire has unveiled her plan to streamline government programs, hoping to cut more expenses as the state faces an estimated $6 billion budget shortfall through 2011.
    2009/02/10 18:53:39
  • New Kerala
    London, Feb 10 : A historian has suggested a link between the Stonehenge and an ancient circle of standing stones known as Carahunge in Armenia, which predates the historic site in England.
    2009/02/11 04:59:46
  • The Deming Headlight
    Santa Fe New Mexico communities statewide are being asked to honor sacred places during Heritage Preservation Month, the annual nationwide celebration of historic preservation through community events and other activities held each May, the state Historic Preservation Division announced today.
    2009/02/11 07:14:40
  • New Kerala
    Dhaka, Feb 11 : A rare hand written letter by Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore has been found from a private collector in a Bangladesh village.
    2009/02/11 05:24:02
  • BBC News
    A rare ceramic face mask jug dating back to the 13th century has been uncovered at a building site in Rothesay.
    2009/02/11 12:27:01
  • San Francisco Chronicle
    Why Evolution Is True By Jerry A. Coyne (Viking; 304 pages; $27.95) Praise be the plucky Tiktaalik roseae, the “transitional form” that hauled itself out of the water 375 million years ago to bridge the span between fish and amphibians, whose descendants…
    2009/02/11 13:04:08
  • The Buffalo News
    The public will soon get its first chance to speak out on the proposed $325 million Canal Side project.
    2009/02/10 13:24:34
  • The Pulse-Journal
    A Deerfield Twp. mansion has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
    2009/02/10 23:32:35
  • FOX 10 Phoenix
    ASU budget cuts force ASU to cap enrollment – Four Dozen Academic Programs to End
    2009/02/10 22:16:40
  • Straight Furrow
    AN AUSTRALIAN antiques dealer has been arrested in Egypt for allegedly trying to smuggle two 2300-year-old animal mummies and religious figurines out of the country.
    2009/02/11 07:57:53
  • Tiscali
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Archaeologists have found a mass grave in Mexico City with four dozen human skeletons laid out in neat lines that could reveal clues about the 16th century Spanish conquest that killed millions.
    2009/02/11 01:54:59
  • Rapid City Journal
    Ladies Salad Luncheon set for Tuesday RAPID CITY The Tuesday Ladies Salad Luncheon will be Feb. 10 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 402 Kansas City St. Special guests are the Rev. Kenneth Sortedahl, his wife and students of Peniel Christian School in Spring Valley, Wis. The event includes music at 11:45 a.m., lunch at noon and the program at 12:30 p.m.
    2009/02/11 07:58:13
  • Deseret Morning News
    Wanted: Volunteer docents for the Museum of Peoples and Cultures at Brigham Young University
    2009/02/11 07:31:08
  • PhotonicsOnline
    Future telescopes, with mirrors half the size of a football field, will need special components to deal with the light they collect. Astronomers are turning to photonic devices that guide and manipulate light inside specially-designed materials.
    2009/02/11 12:33:22
  • Otago Daily Times
    Consent applications for a wind farm in the heart of Southland, due to be filed this month, may not be lodged for at least another two months and maybe longer, as the company behind the project gets a swag of assessment reports reviewed.
    2009/02/10 16:42:53
  • Daily Local News
    Chocolate for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day?
    2009/02/11 11:30:57
  • KIRO 7 Seattle-Tacoma
    OLYMPIA, Wash. — In addition to shutting down 150 minor boards and commissions and closing 25 Department of Licensing offices, Gov. Chris Gregoire says the state could save money by merging some agencies.
    2009/02/10 19:01:48
    Egypt’s chief archaeologist has unveiled a completely preserved mummy inside a limestone sarcophagus sealed 2,600 years ago during pharaonic times.
    2009/02/11 15:11:15
  • Charlevoix Courier
    Years after having thought it had taken the steps necessary to lay claim on a ship it lost to rough seas in the 17th century, France formally asserted ownership last week in a Michigan U.S. District Court.
    2009/02/11 07:18:10
    Hairs that likely belonged to humans living 195,000 to 257,000 years ago in Africa have been identified in fossilized brown hyena dung, according to a new study that describes the first non-bony material in the early human fossil record.
    2009/02/10 18:41:25
  • The Daily World
    OLYMPIA The governors plan to streamline government programs would close Department of Licensing offices across the state, including one at South Bend, and eliminate dozens of state boards and commissions.
    2009/02/10 19:20:52
  • Casper Star-Tribune
    Natrona County Coroner Dr. James Thorpen will retire later this year, he said Tuesday.
    2009/02/11 10:51:22
  • The Bryan-College Station Eagle
    WASHINGTON — Chocolate for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day?Folks may be surprised to know how far back chocolate goes — perhaps 1,000 years in what is now the United States.Evidence of chocolate was been found in Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon, …
    2009/02/11 02:40:23
  • Billings Gazette
    BUTTE – Butte-Silver Bow’s new historic preservation officer is leaving the position Friday.
    2009/02/11 08:38:51
  • The Village Voice
    Portraits in tenacity make for some of the strongest films in this year’s Documentary Fortnight film fest, again bundled within the supergroup of nonfiction attractions known as MOMA’s Doc Month. You might also group the filmmakers under the banner of the relentless, as they rustle up category-bl…
    2009/02/11 00:16:49
  • Horizon 2009 Report

    If you’re not familiar with the Horizon Reports from NMC, then you should take a moment to page through it. The Horizon Reports

    describe the continuing work of the New Media Consortium (NMC)’s Horizon Project, a long-running qualitative research project that seeks to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning, research, or creative expression within learning-focused organizations.

    The report includes numerous links and examples of emerging projects that really push the boundaries.  Two items that caught my eye – my thinking being these would be immediately applicable to archaeology – were the sections on ‘mobiles’ and ‘geo-coded everything’. Some examples already in the pipeline:

    Mobile MaaP
    Columbia University’s Mapping the African American Past (MAAP) website now includes a mobile version designed to be viewed using the iPhone or iPod Touch. The tool includes text and audio information about historically significant locations in New York City and is designed as a tool for mobile learning.

    One could imagine using this kind of application to pre-load all sorts of archaeological landscape information, historic sites, and so on – an augmented reality.

    TinyEye Music, Snap-Tell

    TinEye Music (http:// and Snap-Tell ( use the camera to record a photograph of a CD, video, or book, then identify the artist or author and display that along with reviews of the piece and information on where to buy it

    When I was in the business of identifying Roman brick stamp types, I had a reverse-lookup dictionary on my lap and an equipoise lamp, trying to read the letters, trying to figure out what the **** I was looking at. These two apps could serve as models for us, to tie our catalogues of stamps, forms, fabrics and so on, to our phones. Snap! ‘Vernice Nera ware’… Snap! ‘CIL XV.1 861a’

    On the Geocoding front:

    Collage (, a photo application for the iPhone, lets the viewer upload geotagged photos, browse photos taken nearby, and see photos as they are taken all over the world. Mobile Fotos ( is another iPhone application that automatically geotags photos taken on the device before uploading them to Flickr.

    Obvious usefulness when you have the right device! But if you don’t:

    The Photo Finder by ATP Electronics and the Nikon GP-1 are examples; they capture GPS data and synchronize it to a camera’s data card to geotag the photos automatically. Another approach is to use a specialized device like the GPS Trackstick ( that can be carried in a pocket or glove box. It records the path it travels, and the data can be uploaded to create custom maps of walking or driving routes, hiking trails, or points of interest. Geotagging of media of all kinds is increasingly easy to do (or is automatic), and as a result, the amount and variety of geotagged information available online is growing by the day.

    And something I’d never heard of, but looks promising:

    Virtual geocaching — the practice of placing media (images, video, audio, text, or any kind of digital files) in an online “drop box” and tagging it with a specific geographic location — is emerging as a way to “annotate” real-world places for travelers or tourists; enhance scavenger hunts, alternate reality games, and other forms of urban outdoor recreation; and augment social events such as concerts and other performances. Location ( is one such service. Mobile users can detect the location of nearby drops and retrieve any files they have permission to access.

    Some other items:

    Geocoding with Google Spreadsheets (and Gadgets)
    (Pamela Fox, …And Other Fancy Stuff, 27 November 2008.) This blog post includes step- by-step instructions for embedding a gadget, created by the author, that plots addresses from a Google spreadsheet on a map, providing latitude and longitude data that can be used in other mashups.

    The Mapas Project
    The fledgling Mapas Project at the University of Oregon is dedicated to the study of Colonial Mexican pictorial manuscripts. Geolocation is being used to link real-world locations to those represented on the maps.

    This next one I’ve written about before, but it’s worth keeping your eye on as it develops:

    Mediascape is a tool for creating interactive stories that unfold as the viewer moves through physical space and time. By tapping into the GPS on a viewer’s mobile device and incorporating multimedia as well as interactive controls, every mediascape offers a unique experience for each viewer.

    I find it very interesting that so many of these emerging approaches focus on merging historical data with geographical data. Public History and Public Archaeology: the next big things!

    Next Exit History
    Next Exit History is a project by the University of West Florida and the University of South Florida designed to provide geotagged information (podcasts and other media) to assist tourists in finding and learning about historical sites in Florida that are near major interstate highways but often overlooked by visitors.

    How Your Location-Aware iPhone will Change Your Life
    (Adam Pash, Lifehacker, 5 June 2008.) The iPhone’s location-aware features enhance a host of applications from social networking tools to geotagging photos taken by the phone to nearby restaurant recommendations.

    Delicious: Geo-Everything
    (Tagged by Horizon Advisory Board and friends, 2008.) Follow this link to find resources tagged for this topic and this edition of the Horizon Report, including the ones listed here. To add to this list, simply tag resources with “hz09” and “geolocation” when you save them to Delicious.

    And to close, I’ll admit a degree of ignorance about the semantic side of weblife, but that section should also be of interest –

    Tools for making connections between concepts or people are also entering the market. Calais ( is a toolkit of applications to make it easier to integrate semantic functionality in blogs, websites, and other web content; for instance, Calais’ Tagaroo is a plugin for WordPress that suggests tags and Flickr images related to a post as the author composes it. Zemanta ( is a similar tool, also for bloggers. SemanticProxy, another Calais tool, automatically generates semantic metadata tags for a given website that are readable by semantic-aware applications, without the content creator’s needing to do it by hand. Calais includes an open API, so developers can create custom semantic-aware applications.


    WorldMapper ( produces maps that change visually based on the data they represent; a world map showing total population enlarges more populous countries (China, India) and shrinks those that have a smaller fraction of the world’s population.

    Cultural Heritage

    The Fundación Marcelino Botín in Santander, Spain is seeking to create a research portal to cultural heritage information about the Cantabria region, using semantic-aware applications to draw connections and combine data from a wide variety of sources, including bibliographies, prehistoric excavations, industrial heritage, and others.

    SemantiFind is a web browser plug in that works with Google’s search bar. When a user types a word into the search bar, a drop down menu prompts the user to select the exact sense of the word that is desired, in order to improve the relevance of the results that Google displays. The results are based on user labels on the pages being searched.

    Delicious: Semantic-Aware Applications
    (Tagged by Horizon Advisory Board and friends, 2008.) Follow this link to find resources tagged for this topic and this edition of the Horizon Report, including the ones listed here. To add to this list, simply tag resources with “hz09” and “semanticweb” when you save them to Delicious.

    The entire report is fascinating; hope this snapshot of its contents shoots you off in new directions!