02 November 2007

See the world, don't move an inch

Yesterday I discovered one of those fascinating yet time-wasting internet thingamabobs. Maybe you've heard of it already and are all, that's totally old news, and I've known about it forever, and get with the program, yawn.

But to me, this is pretty cool. It's flickrvision, and it shows a big map of the world with all the images people are uploading to flickr, the online picture gallery, in real time. It feels like you're watching snapshots taken of the whole world at once.

You get to see Lara in Brisbane's photo, and then a picture by Luciano in Milan, and shots of Stephanie in Seattle's party, and Renata in Rio's travels and Yulianus in Indonesia and Fundera in Germany...and on and on.

While the pictures of groups of smiling people and/or pets are legion, there are some wonderful landscape and travel shots. One fun part is noticing that a given picture, while uploaded in Germany or China, is actually of Barcelona or Monument Valley or whatever. It makes you imagine people moving across the map, seemingly at the speed of a few flickers (flickrs?!) of the computer's pixels. Or, click on "3D view" and the world spins as though you're the one flying.

When familiar things pop out of the map it's especially exciting: someone had taken a picture of a croissant from the best bakery in Barcelona! And that statue in Boston! It happens more than you might think, too, that the photos are truly stunning, worth waiting for while the boring blurry ones drift by.

Yesterday as I watched, some distinct trends started to emerge. The Americans, they were uploading pictures of zombies and witches and bumble bees and dragon (to clarify, people costumed as these things). The Europeans were uploading scenes of either parties (blurry pictures of bands and groups of people around beer-littered tables) or travel (cobblestone streets, mountaintops, monuments). The southeast Asians were uploading pictures of street scenes and school events.

After watching for a while I finally saw a picture from Belgium. And what, you are dying to know, was it of? A plate of food, unrecognizable beneath the pile of cheese melted all over the top. You gotta love the Belgians.

But that was just yesterday, during one little slice of the afternoon. What does the world look like today?

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