Google Maps & Cultural Heritage

From Cameron Chapman at Mashable comes a list of the 100+ best tools and mashups; below are the ones I’ve selected that may be of interest to readers of this blog:

Cassini – An overlay of 18th century maps over Google Maps that lets you adjust the transparency of either layer.  (I’ve got copies of the IGM maps of Central Italy from the early 20th century that were used by Ward-Perkins and the rest of the BSR team during the South Etruria survey – I’d love to get those done similar to this application, but I expect I’d run afoul of one or several intellectual property issues…) – An interactive map of locations from the Bible.

World Heritage Google Map – A Google Map of UNESCO World Heritage Sites worldwide that includes photos.

PlaceOpedia – A map of Wikipedia articles linked to their locations.

World’s Creepiest Places – Just as the name implies, this map shows information about the world’ creepiest places.

The Kremer Collection – Use a Google Maps interface to browse a large collection of paintings.

zkimmer – An online publication viewer for newspapers and magazines that uses the Google Maps UI.

Google Maps Recent Edits – A constantly updating map that shows the most recent edits to Google Maps.

We Tell Stories – A map of the stories of six different authors that lets you follow the trail of their stories around the world

Map Builder – A quick and easy Google Maps mashup builder.

MapMyPage – A simple tool to put Google Maps on your website.

Map My Life – An easy to use mashup that will map your life and show a timeline using an XML file you provide.

The Google Maps Image Cutter – A free application for cutting any image into tiles for use with the Google Maps interface.

Automatic Tile Cutter – Another app for cutting any image into tiles to use with Google Maps.

GMapCreator – A tool to make creating thematic Google Maps easier.

Geo Twitter – GeoCode your tweets and plot them on an embeddable map. – An app that lets you put a message (smoke signals, crop circles, etc.) into a map and then email it to anyone.

Dual Maps – Free mapping tools to combine different Google Maps views as well as Microsoft Virtual Earth maps. – Get relief layers for Google Maps free for creating your own mashups.

HeatMapAPI – Use this API to create your own heat maps to overlay Google Maps.

PdMarker – An app to help you easily customize Google Maps marker behavior

The original list lives here

Resistance is Futile: Facebook & Study Groups app

Like the Borg said, ‘Resistance is Futile’.

So far, I have not succumbed to Facebook. I’m on Linked In, I write this blog, I’m supposed to be contributing to the Ancient Bloggers’ Group Blog, I manage two other blogs for other projects, I keep the RWU website going, I’m building a virtual excavation in Second Life, I’m writing  two works of Interactive Fiction (as an experiment to teach historical literacy), I’m trying to figure out how the scenario builder in Caesar IV works so I can create a Forum Novum scenario, I have at least four articles on the backburner, plus sundry agent-based models… oh yes, I teach from time to time too…

But it looks like I’ll have to join Facebook, if only to evaluate what looks like the most useful application of it so far, at least as far as teaching/learning is concerned: ‘Study Groups‘.  From Dan Cohen’s Digital Humanities Blog:

“Many academic Facebook applications are merely search boxes or other non-social search and information services transposed to Facebook (e.g., JSTOR Search or the countless library search widgets). Study Groups, on the other hand, gets it right by emphasizing the networking and collaboration possible within Facebook.”

From Jane Hart’s Blog:

“Study Groups is a Facebook app.  It’s a social project management tool aimed at students to help them to easily collaborate online and in person.  It lets them:

* Easily log in and set up a group using their existing Facebook ID
* Discuss assignments in a discussion board
* Share files and notes
* Assign tasks and responsibilities
* Schedule meetings
* Stay up-to-date on the latest group activity”

Having once caused one university’s entire Moodle system to crash during an upgrade (it wasn’t entirely my fault, there was some custom coding in the back end that I didn’t know about!), it is easy to imagine something easy and straight-forward like this (no coding, no installing, no ftp’ing, no worrying about which version of MySql and Php are on the server) evolving quite quickly to become an effective management system for rounding up and sorting out your distance ed, online, or real-world classes.

On a similar note, there is now a WordPress plug-in to achieve the same thing. Look at what Scholarpress  is up to:

“ScholarPress is a developing hub for educational WordPress plugins – bridging the gap between technology and pedagogy. At our launch we have two plugins that work independently, but can be combined together.

Courseware enables you to manage a class with a WordPress blog, including a schedule, bibliography, assignments, and other course information.

WPBook works with the Facebook Development platform to create a Facebook Application (addable by users within the site) using a WordPress blog.

It’s possible to use these together, as Jeremy has done for his History 120 class. Check it out.”

All of this reminds me of a post that Eric Kansa put up the other day, when we were talking about integrating archaeological data into Second Life:

“I think the most interesting things will happen between and among such systems that work together as an ecosystem exchanging data. The capability to draw upon a diverse array of powerful web services (delivering XML-encoded data, or similar formats like JSON) from data providers such as Nabonidus, Open Context, Freebase, GoogleDocs, the Portable Antiquities Scheme and others.”

I think this is what we’re starting to observe, a developing ecosystem where multiple services are fused together, seamlessly, in a way where their use is no longer reserved for the geeks amongst us.

Resistance is futile!

“Making Dead History Come Alive Through Mobile Game Play”

In an earlier post, I mused on the possibilities for enhancing the experience at an archaeological site by mashing-up the physical and the virtual, and in a subsquent post I presented a lesson plan for doing that in a group setting. A related post concerns the use of Mediascapes to play games at the Tower of London. Seems I’m not the only one thinking along these lines – a paper presented at the Computer/Human Interaction Conference 2007 by researchers at the University of Bari explicitly details an augmented-reality game at a Roman site in Italy (full paper):

“Abstract: This work in progress presents a design approach to digitally enhancing an existing paper-based game to support young students learning history at an archaeological site, by making use of recent advantages provided by mobile technology. It requires minimal investments and changes to the existing site exhibition because it runs on the visitors’ own cellular phones. It is expected that game-play will trigger a desire to learn more about ancient history and to make archaeological visits more effective and exciting. “

Interestingly, they propose to use memory-cards with cellphones, rather than to try and transmit and download information on the fly. Their game (‘Gais’ day in Egnathia’; Egnathia is a Roman city in Apulia) started life as a paper-based game played on the site. With the addition of the cellphones and the memory cards, the designers of the game hope to be able to collect data on the actual game-play data which will assist them in improving the learning experience.

Omeka & Archaeological Survey Project Websites: a good fit?

In an earlier post, I mentioned that the Omeka toolkit might have useful archaeological applications. The Omeka people themselves picked up on that thought, and there’s some interesting discussion on their blog on how smaller institutions (‘Beyond the Museum‘) might use Omeka.

“[…]we have always intended Omeka to be used not only for history museum exhibitions, but also by enthusiast collectors, scholars, libraries, and community groups in many fields—really anyone interested in collecting and displaying digital objects in rich visual and interpretive environments. One good example of Omeka’s flexibility is the community site, which was developed in concert with CHNM by local volunteers in the Braddock district of Fairfax County, VA.”

I’m reminded again how timely the emergence of this tool is by Bill Caraher’s discussion on the state of archaeological survey project websites:

“[…]survey project websites are a mixed bag[…] It seems to me that since many survey projects tend to be less stable institutional entities with life spans between a few years and a decade and make little investment in semipermanent, physical infrastructure (e.g. dig houses, site guards, fences, et c.), this often translates to instability on the web[…]The preceding links to survey projects show how most (but not all!) have broken links, pictures that fail to appear, or offer little more than static data (nice photos, some maps… in fact, much of this doesn’t count as data at all; of course, some surveys, like the the Sydney Cyprus Survey Project, have archived their data officially in places like the Arts and Humanities Data Service ).

If Omeka can live up to its promise, I could imagine a free-ish hosting service (much like how WordPress hosts this blog) with Omeka installed on it, and survey archaeologists uploading their information to it from wherever they are in the world. I haven’t yet played with Omeka, but if all the various mapping services out there can be mashed in there too, then we can perhaps mitigate the factors that Bill discusses.

‘The Past Present: Augmented Historical Reality’ – a lesson plan sketch

In a previous post, I briefly considerd how something like Semapedia or Smartpox might be used archaeologically. I’ve recently been thinking about how they might be used in teaching in history. Below is a brief lesson plan I’ve written for a roughly 15 hour project… what I’m curious about is, has anybody else tried to incorporate this kind of thing into their actual teaching practice?

‘The Past Present: Augmented Historical Reality’

Hook: Every place contains an echo of its past. Whether it’s a particular architectural detail on a heavily renovated building or a depression in a field marking the foundation of an abandoned farm house, there are clues everywhere. The problem is how can we see them? How can we train ourselves to read the past in the present?

Concept: To mash up the internet with the real world, tying them physically in such a way that a passer-by can be alerted to the presence of the past in a particular place.

Technology: There are at least three different ways this could be accomplished, with varying degrees of richness and immersiveness and requiring various degrees of technological know-how:

1. Semapedia ( )
2. Smartpox ( )
3. Mediascape (

All three methods rely on ‘tagging’ or creating ‘hot-spots’ in the real-world that then can be used to trigger the more-or-less automatic retrieval of information or multimedia from the internet. Semapedia and Smartpox both rely on creating 2-dimensional bar-codes that are then attached to a mail box, wall, tree, etc, while Mediascape depends on global positioning system coordinates.

Semapedia connects the bar-code to an article in the wikipedia. You go to the Semapedia website, type in the relevant wikipedia article URL, and Semapedia provides multiple copies of the barcode. Then, the user attaches the bar code to the building. Semapedia provides the software to enable a camera-phone to read the bar code. A person might be wandering along, spot the bar code, and take a photo of it. The camera decodes the bar code, which causes it to retrieve the relevant information from the wikipedia. You are not required to sign in or register with Semapedia in order to create the bar codes.

Smartpox is a bit more sophisticated, in that it allows you to encode links to any website, other phone numbers, email and text. The process of creating the barcodes is very similar to Semapedia, but it requires the user to be a registered member of the website.

Finally, Mediascape works in much the same fashion, but requires a gps-enabled personal digital assistant. The user sets up ‘hot spots’ in the realworld beforehand; whenever a person using a gps-enabled pda that has the Mediascape software installed on it wanders by the hot spot, it trips the delivery of audio, video, text etc to the PDA.

All three services are free, but the Mediascape requires expensive hand held computers to work, whereas camera phones with web access are more or less standard these days – so Semapedia or Smartpox would be the best option, at least initially.

What would the students ultimately create? There might be a number of options. For instance:

1. Historical tours – the students could research the history of the people for whom the campus buildings (or town) are named. They would then write Wikipedia articles on these people – or update existing pages – and created bar codes for them. Then, they’d place these all over campus. (using Semapedia?)

2. Treasure hunt/scavenger hunt/game – develop an augmented reality game, where the barcodes are used to provide clues, unlock information, played on campus (or around town). Can involve decision-making, branching narratives (ie, choice a, go to this building, choice b, go to that building) (Smartpox?)

3. Recreate the past landscape of the campus through a Mediascape. What was here before? What did it look like, what did it sound like? Tie these things to the appropriate place…

So what would the teacher do with the students?

1. walk about on campus, pointing out ‘hidden’ dimensions (ie: plaque on wall, famous event, who was this person who donated the money to have this building built, why is this building named after this person, what an odd depression in the ground over there)
TIME: 1 hour

2. point out one response to that sort of thing: explore annotated maps etc on Google Earth
TIME: 28 minutes

3. ask students to notice the links between google earth and wikipedia (also
TIME: 2 minutes

4. ask students how are wikipedia articles written? What gives them authority? Why are they useful? Write an article
TIME: 2 hours – research, etc

5. observe, Too bad you can’t take google earth with you, as you wander the planet – or can you? Barcodes, semapedia, smartpox, mediascape
TIME: 30 minutes to show how they work, get set up

6. get students to design an application (tour, game, etc) using these
Time: 6 hours

7. get students to swap with other students, play the game etc
Time: 4 hours

8. get students to reflect and give feedback – what works, what doesn’t, do the barcodes help you see the past present? landscape as palimpsest, etc…
Time: 1 hour

Total time: 15 hours


Platial and Pleiades – rss feeds

I’ve become a beta-tester on Platial. The RSS feed tool seems to work better on the testing side of the site, although it is still somewhat quirky. The screenshot shows what you get once you submit a feed – in this case, the atom geo-referenced feed from the Pleiades Project. Now, what I would’ve expected, is that Platial automatically extracted the geographic coordinates for each item in the feed, and mapped it. That’s not what happens – rather, the Platial tool is expecting that you’ve added a feed that doesn’t contain geographic info (say, a list of church suppers in your area), and then you punch in the address, city, state, or lat/long coordinates. Now, that is indeed a handy tool for non-georeferenced feeds, but defeats my purpose. At least for today.

I’ve also tried using automatic feed generators for third party sites, things like Feedity on Archaeology magazine’s archaeological news page with Platial, and with Yahoo Pipes. I’d like to see where in the world things are happening! To date, not much success (Feedity tosses in advertisements which – I’m guessing – cause problems). I suppose were I handy with coding etc I could make it all work… but again, that’d be defeating the purpose.


Pleiades Responds

My attempt at pumping Pleiades through yahoo pipes led to an interesting discussion with Tom Elliott, the direct of the Pleiades project. Tom writes

As Shawn observed, pumping that list of ancient names through a presentist geocoder (like Yahoo!’s) gives you suboptimal results.

Pleiades in fact stores locations for every feature (at least when we can determine their locations). In our customization work on Plone for Pleiades, we’ve tacked on a couple of other interfaces that aren’t as obvious to users as they should be. Anywhere Pleiades displays or lists spatial content, we also provide an Atom feed that’s extended with GeoRSS tags, as well as a KML feed.

So, for those archaic places, Shawn could choose to use either of:

Both provide the coordinates, and therefore get you around the geocoding problem.

The full text of Tom’s post is here. Thanks Tom! I’m going to see what I can do with those new feeds…

Yahoo Pipes and the Pleiades Project

I recently wrote about trying to get Platial to map various kinds of data. Today I tried Yahoo Pipes. Again, the task was relatively straightforward: can I get an RSS feed of archaeological data – such as ancient places in the (non-mapped) Pleaides website database – onto a map without having to point-and-click each individual place?

First of all, I searched the various existing pipes that others have created. A pipe, by the way, is a collection of different modules ‘piped’ together to mash together different kinds of, and sources of, data. The pipe updates itself when the in-coming data changes. I found the geo-annotated Reuters news pipe, by el80n. This pipe collects information from the Reuters news-feed, extracts the locational information from it, finds out the actual coordinates for that location, and then displays the result on a yahoo map.

pipe1.JPGI swapped the feed from Reuters to Pleiades’ Archaic places, and la voila. A number of the sites from that list turned up on the map. Now, there’re a few bugs in it. The place-extractor looks at the feed, and grabs the first ‘obvious’ place name. In Reuters, that’s the modern name. In Pleaides, that’s the ancient name. The database that contains the geocoding only has modern names, so things get a little odd. For instance, Artamis (modern Messa), gets mapped to an island in the South China Sea. There’s a query builder in the pipe, so I need to figure out how to get it to grab the modern name, while labeling the map with the ancient name.

All of this took about an hour. I had never used pipes before, and all I really did was swap feeds. Imagine what somebody who knew what they were doing could accomplish! You may view the live result here.


MAGIS: Mediterranean Archaeology GIS

It turns out that what I thought was so clever yesterday, was done some time ago by folks at DePauw:

MAGIS, an inventory of regional survey projects in the greater Mediterranean region.

As of today, they have 288 survey projects in their spatially-searchable database. The interface is a bit clunky though, and relies on popups, which my browser consistently shuts down, despite me telling it not too. Platial and my BiblioCartography also have the advantage of allowing others to embed the maps in their own applications. If I get around to it, I might incorporate the MAGIS inventory.


In my research, I have often wished to know what kinds of archaeological projects were going on in a given region. This usually involved a bibliographical search on various names describing the region or place names I know within the region. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I know the name of the principle researcher synonymous with the region’s archaeology, and can search for that person’s published works.

But what if I don’t know these things? What if research in an area has yet to be published? It can sometimes be an extremely frustrating process. Wouldn’t it be better if you could just zoom in on a map of the region, and discover who is working there, and the relevant publications?

Problems should be solved by those who see them, and so, I have created just such an annotated map for archaeologists using the tools of

The map lives over on the side of this blog. I have created a sample annotation for how I think it will work: I have located a site that I have worked on (Forum Novum), provided links to relevant webpages describing the project, and included a small bibliography of published works relevant to that site. Marking a new site is a simple point-and-click process. You too may create annotations by using the buttons underneath the map. You can embed the map in your own website – and I’d be enormously pleased if you did!

I would suggest using the following format when you describe a site, because this will allow for more effective searching of the map:

Site name, site type

Links to major relevant website(s)

Names of principle investigators (which could be included in the tags)

Relevant bibliography

Mashing the physical and the virtual: ‘the internet of things’ and barcode archaeology

In this month’s Wired there is a piece by Evan Ratliff about Google Maps. What really caught my interest though, was a side-bar on page156, called ‘The Internet of Things’:

What if you could walk down an unfamiliar street, use your camera phone to take a picture of a building, and instantly know everything about it, from the architect to the list of tenants. The technology to make common objects clickable, like hyperlinked words on a Web site, is available today in the form of 2-d barcodes […]

The side bar goes on to mention Smartpox and, two websites that provide the user with bar-code print outs, and software for the user’s camera phone to read the bar codes.

From the Smartpox website:

What is a Smartpox anyway?
A Smartpox is actually a 2-dimensional barcode. These barcodes contain data that can be decoded using the Smartpox reader. You can create a Smartpox tag using a URL, an email address, a telephone number, or just plain text.

And from the Semapedia website:

Our goal is to connect the virtual and physical world by bringing the right information from the internet to the relevant place in physical space.

To accomplish this, we invite you to create Semapedia-Tags which are in fact cellphone-readable physical hyperlinks. You can create such Tags easily yourself by choosing and pasting a Wikipedia URL into the form above. Once created, you put the Tags up at their according physical location. You just hyperlinked your world! Others can now use their cellphone to ‘click’ your Tag and access the information you provided them.

Now, what got me excited was this thought: archaeological materials, standing remains, different phases of a building, crates of finds from last year’s dig…. all of these could have a barcode printed out for them, from either one of these websites. The investigator could then simply take a photo with her camera phone, and instantly have the information. No more fiddly paper records covered with coffee stains and cigarette ashes…

Imagine also the scene at the museum. Visitor spots an artefact on the shelf that piques his interest. He spots the barcode, photographs it, and instantly he has access to the excavation report. I could imagine subsequent secondary literature also being linked through to the barcode.

My hands shake too much for me to be of much use writing site codes and catalogue numbers onto objects using indelible ink. But a barcode that can be printed out on demand – that I can get my shaky hands on.

Historical GIS and various Google Earth Mashups – into SL?

What would be enormously cool would be to link the various historical GIS / Google Earth Mashups – into SL. After all, the world depicted in the historical GIS only exists as bits bytes and imagination. So why not take the next step through the GIS into a representation of its data in SL? Imagine that you were interested in the development of the city of Ottawa in the 19th century, and one of the addresses you find is linked via SLURL into SL. Click, and you’re in that structure, with its contents and inhabitants available for conversation. Would this be anything more than a gimmick?

Perhaps… but if the experience of the space has any effect on how lives were lived in that space, perhaps not. Maybe the way to link it would be to allow users of the GIS interested in particular locations to tag them with a SLURL to their own reconstruction of that space/place… a 3-dimensional discussion – virtual living history?

Here’s a list of various historical GIS etc for perusal…

Various Historical GIS Systems

China Historical GIS

Allows dynamic interaction with the map, simple querying of the dots-on-the-map – then, once you’ve found it, it will map it for you on Google Earth, Multi-map, etc

Great Britian Historical GIS

Data and university research lives at:

The Great Britain Historical Geographical Information System is a unique digital collection of information about Britain’s localities as they have changed over time. Information comes from census reports, historical gazetteers, travellers’ tales and historic maps, assembled into a whole that is much more than the sum of its parts. This site tells you more about the project itself and about historical GIS.

A separate site, funded by the UK National Lottery, has been created to make this resource available on-line to everyone, presenting our information graphically and cartographically. This site is called A Vision of Britain Through Time and presents the history of Great Britain through places. It can be found at:

Some points of interest re the GBHGIS:
• Like any mainstream GIS, the original GBH GIS could hold information only about units whose locations we knew. There are a few historical units which appear, for example, in tax lists but whose location is unknown. There are a great many more whose boundaries have yet to be mapped. The core of our new system is a systematic list of all the units we know about – currently over 48,000 units, linked by over 150,000 relationships.
• This core system is not, strictly speaking, a GIS at all: it is implemented using Oracle database software, requires no locational data at all and is organised as an ontology, or “polyhierarchic thesaurus”. Each unit can have any number of names, hierarchic relationships are held very flexibly, and we use a system of “date objects” which enable us to record changes as precise calendar dates, as years, or as strings of text such as “at least 1174 but possibly as early as 983”. [SMG: This is interesting, because it is much more flexible, lets all sorts of ‘fuzzy’ data get incorporated]
• Although knowing boundaries is not compulsory, we use the Oracle Spatial extension to hold over 40,000 boundary polygons, with dates, for many units. These polygons were created by our own earlier work, by Roger Kain and Richard Oliver’s work at Exeter University on the boundaries of Ancient Parishes, and recent work we have done on Scottish parish boundaries. The system can use hierarchical relationships to infer approximate locations for units lacking boundaries.

The public face of the GBGIS:

You interact with this site by inputting a place name or a postal code. I used the postal code for where I used to live – KT10 8NS and received the following info:
“Elmbridge is a District/Unitary Authority in the county of Surrey, in England. It is part of the South East.
This is a modern unit which was reported on by the 2001 census. Most of our historical statistics were originally gathered for units with quite different boundaries. To give you a clear picture of long-run change, we have used our detailed information on boundaries and population distribution to redistrict the historical statistics to the modern units.
Statistical comparisons will be made with England and Wales (change comparison)”
There followed information broken into the following sections:
“Population: In 1801 Elmbridge’s total population was 6,986. In 1901 it was 35,058. By 2001 the population was 121,911. -> more information”

“Life and Death: In 1851, 114 babies in every thousand died in their first year. In 1911 it was 80. By 2001 the rate was 3. -> more information”

and so on, for “industry”, “social class”, “language and learning”, “agricultural and land use”, “work and poverty”, “housing”, “roots and religion”, and then some more cartographic materials – “boundaries”, “relationships and changes”, “other units”

So while this site presents a vast amount of material in an appealing and effective manner, it is still for all of that, rather static.

National Historic GIS (US)

This site hosts information you can grab for your own GIS uses. You search their catalogue for info related to a place of interest. And you must register first.

Buffalo Historical GIS

The Buffalo Historical GIS (Geographical Information System) is an interdisciplinary project directed by Dr. Jean Richardson of the Department of History and Social Studies Education. Other faculty participants include Dr. Tao Tang and Mary Perrelli from the Department of Geography and Planning, Dr. M. Stephen Pendleton of the Economics Department and Dr. Gordon Fraser of the Great Lakes Center.
This prototype consists of several ArcIMS map layers containing feature data digitized from historic maps of Buffalo. The following maps are currently available:
• Buffalo in 1850
• Buffalo in 1900
• Pan-American Exposition 1901
• Buffalo Ward Boundaries
Future map layers will include additional feature categories such as schools, hospitals, grocery stores, taverns, theaters, etc., with links to additional text and images. Other map layers and attached databases will allow the display of demographic data such as population density, ethnicity, household income, property values, and governmental information.

National Historic Sites of Canada

Not a GIS per se, but rather a java-based clickable map that lets you click through to a blurb on a historic site once you’ve zoomed in on a particular area. And interestingly enough, a national historic site might not be in this system IF it is not currently under the admin of Parks Canada – sites admin’d by the NCC for instance are missing…

Grand repertoire du patrimoine bati de Montreal

This site lets you search by house # and street, to pull up all of the information (and sometimes photos) related to that house IF it is a designated heritage site. I am certain that at one time this site provided thematic map layers of the city and related the heritage info for particular house of interest to those maps… but I can’t seem to find it now.

From the Museum of London:

a google maps mashup for annotating the city of London

Speaking of google maps mashups, see the following for historically themed mashups:

And on a not very related theme at all, but relevant to the idea of a historical gis type site where you’d get to manipulate historical documents on your own is:

This is a site related to the classical world. The module itself is a numismatics module that takes you through how to classify, study, and publish ancient coins. Notable for the fact that you can manipulate some of the coins, and are taken by the hand through the entire process – including how to work with the often impenetrable coin catalogues. Now imagine that for an 1875 Valuation Roll and how to decipher 19th century handwriting…

World Explorer

From the website: an internet application that allows visitors to explore the world and it’s events using Google Maps and a dynamic timeline. The application is still in development, but we are working to build a community of interested people who can help get this project off the ground.

Historical Marker Database

‘History happened here’ is the theme – users mark up the world (via google earth) with historical information…

Your History Here

from the website: “Do you know something unusual about a place, building or street? Some odd factoid, rumour or tidbit? Share it here, and if you’re lucky someone will follow up with more info on your place.”

Also: “Hello, and welcome to YourHistoryHere, the place where you can share your knowledge about those unusual places, buildings or things that make places interesting to live. This site is on limited circulation at the moment, and is only supposed to be a mySociety demo, not a big posh project like PledgeBank. It may not be obvious, but the most important feature of YourHistoryHere is the construction of an underlying system for collecting and sharing geographic annotations in an open syndicated format, so you can use the yummy local data people leave for your own purposes. We’re building two sites that show how this can be useful, this one and, and we’d love to share the code for other ideas. Anyone want to build Tom Steinberg, mySociety Director – 23/08/2005″

What is also interesting about this are the discussions that seem to erupt after somebody posts a new spot – disputing / corroborating what the original poster had to say.

eRuv: A Street History in Semacode

taking things down to the level of a single street, from the website: “eRuv is a digital graffiti project installed along the route of the former Third Avenue elevated train line in lower Manhattan. The train line, dismantled in 1955, was more than just a means of transport; it was part of an important religious boundary — an eruv — for a Hasidic community on the old Lower East Side. Using semacodes, the former boundary is reconstructed and mapped back onto the space of the city. Pedestrians with camera phones can then access location-specific historical content linked through the semacodes.”