LookBackMaps Joins Historypin

I’m excited to announce that I’m joining Historypin, the location-based community driven history website, as Strategic Partnerships Director.

Historypin was created by We Are What We Do, a London-based non-profit with a simple mission: create stuff that makes it easier for people to do small, good things every day. Joining forces, our work at the intersection of history and technology will be placed in the bigger context of social and cultural discovery, intergenerational dialogue, family history and storytelling, and community development.

In my new role at Historypin, I’ll be working with libraries, archives and museums to develop collaborative tools and platforms to help share their collections, leading Historypin’s work in Linked Open Data, and leveraging data interoperability for the common good. I’ll also be responsible for establishing our U.S. presence in San Francisco.

Next week, I’ll be in New York to accept the Webby Award for best Charitable/Not-for-profit site on Historypin’s behalf. This significant recognition honors both the innovative work of the Historypin team and the importance of the many collaborative web projects emerging from the cultural heritage sector.

Historypin is still in beta form and will officially launch on July 11, 2011.

Thank you for your continued support and I look forward to working with you in my new role!

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New video: Historic New Orleans iPhone App

In conjunction with the Museums & Mobile Online Conference today, we’ve released a new video debuting the Historic New Orleans iPhone App, a partnership with the Historic New Orleans Collection. As the short video suggests, we had a great time building the app, and hope you’ll have as much fun exploring the world around Canal Street circa the 1930′s! You can download the app from the App Store for free today!

iTunes app store logo

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History Mashups at SXSW

Update: The full audio recording of our panel is now available on the official SXSW website here.

Scroll to bottom for links from this video.

Innovating and Developing with Libraries, Archives, and Museums, SXSW Interactive 2011.

Thanks to my awesome panel: Danielle Plumer at Texas History Online (@dcplumer | here are her slides), Deborah Boyer from Azavea (@debsting | here are her slides), and Michael Edson from the Smithsonian (@mpedson). Also, here’s the unofficial site for the panel, and here’s Michael’s part of the panel.

I didn’t really put up any slides but here’s the Civil War Data 150 project, which is part of a larger movement of Linked Open Data in libraries, archives, and Museums (follow #lodlam on twitter).

Featured in the mashup video I showed:
Open Library and the fab UI work of George Oates and her team at the Internet Archive
Google Books Ngram
National Archive mashup contest
NARA winners on Flickr
And the audio mashup was from various selections at Library of Congress (like FDR, field recordings, and interviews following the attacks on Pearl Harbor), Jelly Roll Morton from Internet Archive, and the XX.

Of course there’s so many great mashups and official releases in the world of history and technology, this was just a sampling!  Please post your favorites in the comments!

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Sneak Preview: Historic New Orleans now on the App Store!

We partnered with the Historic New Orleans Collection to create the Historic New Orleans iPhone app, which is now available on the App Store.  The app highlights the Franck photo collection in the French Quarter and Central Business District from the 1920′s through the 1940′s.  Check it out and let us know what you think!

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Preview of SXSW Panel

I’m excited to be joining Michael Edson, Deborah Boyer and Danielle Plumer on a panel entitled Innovating and Developing with Libraries, Archives, and Museums at SXSW this year.  Melissa Sepe from Razorfish asked me a few questions about the panel, and you can read the full interview here.  We talk just a little about how and why libraries, archives and museums will be leaders in the machine-readable future of Linked Open Data.

“You’ll get a quick update on the innovative collaborations in the world of libraries, archives, and museums, and see how these institutions are reaching out to 21st-century audiences in exciting new ways.”

We’ll be highlighting some of the best mashups with libraries, archives and museums in the last year or so, and looking to the future to see what’s ahead.  See you in Austin!

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Spring/Summer Conferences

Jon Voss will be participating at the following upcoming spring/early summer conferences. Follow LookBackMaps on Twitter to connect!

March 15. SXSW Interactive, Austin, TXInnovating and Developing with Libraries, Archives and Museums. Leading panel with Michael Edson, Deborah Boyer and Danielle Plumer. 9:30am.

March 22-23. Museums and Mobile Online Conference 2011, Virtual.  LookBackMaps is an exhibitor and will be debuting a video highlighting a new app in partnership with a yet-to-be-announced museum.

April 29 – May 1. Great Lakes THATCamp, East Lansing, MI. Jon will be leading a bootcamp on Linked Open Data, walking through the policy and technology aspects of Linked Open Data by using the Civil War Data 150 project as an example.  This might include a little light code, but will largely introduce the legal tools and precedents of Open Data as well as specifics on what Linked Data is, the 5 stars of Linked Data according to Tim Berners-Lee, and what linked data code actually looks like/does.

June 2-3. International Linked Open Data in Libraries, Archives and Museums Summit, San Francisco, CA.  Jon is organizing and facilitating this meeting in partnership with the Internet Archive which seeks to forward Linked Open Data.

June 5-9. 2011 Semantic Technology Conference, San Francisco, CA. Jon will be presenting “The State of Linked Open Data in Libraries, Archives, and Museums” on June 8 at 1:45pm.

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LookBackMaps in the NYTimes

Seeing LookBackMaps mentioned in Rob Walker’s Consumed column in the New York Times Magazine January 3 was a great way to start off 2011!

The article, entitled Global Entertainment, explores the way maps are being used for more than information, and credits smaller enterprises for finding original uses of Google’s maps.  It’s great to see explorations of historical place making it to the mainstream more and more lately.

The new cartography also benefits from the availability of other massive data streams that can be channeled into a form cross-matched on a map. The Geotaggers’ World Atlas shows where Flickr and Picasa users take the most pictures. Lookbackmaps and Historypin put user-submitted photos of historic interest onto Google maps. The BBC has an online tool called Dimensions that allows you to see, for instance, the size of the gulf oil spill overlaid on the geographic location of your choice. You can also find instructions online for how to create a Google map pinpointing foreclosures in your city.

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LookBackMaps in the National Archives AR Contest

Dorothea Lange photo in LookBackMaps app

The US National Archives is holding a very unique Augmented Reality Photo Contest through January 21, 2011, inviting people to mashup photos from the National Archive with real time photographs.  I figured there’s no better tool for that than the LookBackMaps iPhone app!

I was able to geolocate several amazing Dorothea Lange photos documenting the beginning of the Japanese American Internment of WWII in San Francisco.  I think you’ll agree that these amazing images have even more impact and meaning when you see it transposed over the same view from today and reflect on the enormity and injustice of this event in American history.  Then imagine squatting on the sidewalk in front of the Japanese American Citizens League, a nondescript building near Japantown, or in front of a Jiffy Lube on Van Ness, and seeing this history come to life in front of you!

Boy awaiting bus to internment camps.

Click on the images to see them in greater detail and read more about them on Flickr, and select them as a favorite on Flickr to cast your vote for getting these images into a National Archives postcard book!  While you’re at it, check out the other great then & now photos entered into the contest in the History Happens Here Flickr group.

And here’s a hint for finding great photos in the National Archives near you: they just unveiled a new search site that makes it a lot easier to browse through their holdings!  Let me know if you’ve added National Archives photos to LookBackMaps that you’d like to see on the iPhone app and I’ll push them through.  The more entries for the contest the better!

[UPDATE] Two of the LookBackMaps entries were selected as finalists in the competition and will be featured in the NARA postcard book for sale in their gift shop and online soon! See all of the finalists here.

Japanese Americans arriving in April, 1942 for transportation to internment camps.

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LookBackMaps in the Atlantic, RWW

First, we’re excited to have been mentioned in a fascinating article in this month’s The Atlantic magazine by Matthew Battles, who examines a new perspective on time.  He writes, “LookBackMaps, a San Francisco Web development company, has created an iPhone mapping app that lets the user overlay historical photographs of places onto the iPhone’s camera view, combining past and present in a single picture—crowding wagons and horses, cobblestones and ghostly pedestrians into modern cityscapes.”

Last week, Audrey Watters of ReadWriteWeb dove deeper into LookBackMaps and some of the other projects I’ve been involved with regarding Linked Open Data.  Her article, entitled LookBackMaps – Building A Location-Based Time Machine,  is an inspiring piece for everyone who’s working with historical photos on the web.  She definitely speaks to the potential, and my hope, that the more resources that are made available to publish Open Data from libraries, archives, and museums, the more developers will be able to incorporate that rich historical content into increasingly exciting web and mobile applications.

Sure, the growth of location-based social networks points to the importance of “who goes there.” But our curiosity about “who was there” extends back farther in time, I’d contend, than simply which people Facebook or Foursquare may list as recent visitors.

My hope is that we’ll see a rapidly growing ecosystem of interactive historical apps and websites in the coming years, getting us ever closer to that time machine I started when I was ten.  Or at least something like it.

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TimeTravelTourism: Stanford

Photo from the California Historical Society.

I was picking up a friend down on the Stanford campus the other day and remembered a famous picture of the campus just after the 1906 earthquake. As I recall, the Stanford campus sustained some serious damage during the quake, though not the disastrous fires which wiped out much of San Francisco. This image was of a statue that fell from it’s perch and stuck into the sidewalk below. Apparently, the statue only had a broken finger, and was placed back on the building.

Finding the exact location seemed like a perfect mission for me and my ten year old.  He was super excited to see the very place where the statue landed and pick out what has or has not changed. He was perplexed at my guiding him to stand for a photo–until I showed him the picture from the LookBackMaps app.  There he was, a tourist on the 1906 Stanford campus!

See the before and after views of the statue on LookBackMaps.

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