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to publish Open Data from libraries, archives, and museums, the more developers will be able to incorporate that rich historical content into increasingly exciting web and mobile applications.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.