A couple of days ago I mentioned about my problem with Flickr geotagging. The Flickr user in question didn’t limit her geotagging to just her residence, but seems to have polluted the entire area with pictures of herself in lingerie (or less.) Despite my earlier comments, none of them are family-friendly, and almost all of them are in violation of Flickr’s community standards. The number of images and the way they are spread over our county make it impossible to ignore. For my upcoming workshop on Google Earth this summer, I had to find a workaround.
The Flickr KML feed from Metaltoad is one of the best I’ve seen. Using the Flickr concept of "interestingness", the most interesting images are displayed first, and more are displayed as the user zooms in closer. One of the best things about Metaltoad’s KML is that it pulls in ALL users. Unfortunately, there is no way to filter that content. Personally, I plan to continue using Metaltoad’s KML, but I won’t use it in my workshop because of this lack of filtering.
Yuan’s KML interface is the only other comprehensive Flickr feed I’ve found that updates according to context. However, it doesn’t seem to be as comprehensive as Metaltoad in terms of the number of images/Flickr users it displays. I haven’t quite figured out which images it pulls. Does it pull in just those images that have given permission? I only see mine and a few other users.
There are a couple of other workarounds that might work. One of my first attempts to display Flickr images in Google Earth was with Flyr from Whatfettle.com. Flyr’s service doesn’t generate a network link, but displays a limited subset of Flickr images in Google Earth based on user input. A very simple interface allows visitors to enter a Flickr username, keywords for searching titles and descriptions, or tags. While this is does eliminate problems such as our exhibitionist neighbor, it doesn’t allow someone to causally drill down to a location and see the photography activity that’s going on in that location.
You could actually create your own version of Flyr using either Flickr’s API for various coding schemes, or their recently released public API with support for GeoRSS. The second method is the easiest, as it just involves modifying parameters in a Google Earth network link. Take a look at the following link, for example:
This link would shows the last 20 geotagged images uploaded by all users. I can make some modifications to that link as follows:
http://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/geo/us/sc?format=kml_nl – shows the last 20 geotagged images in South Carolina.
http://api.flickr.com/services/feeds/geo/us/sc/greenville?format=kml_nl – shows the last 20 geotagged images in Greenville, South Carolina
If you haven’t already seen the pattern, these methods only get the lastest 20 images based on the search parameters. This isn’t just limited to place, though. The following hyperlink will show me all images tagged with "waterfalls":
You can also combine location with tags. For example, this link will show waterfalls in North Carolina:
If you know your Flickr ID, you can also get your own (or any other user’s) latest geotagged images.
I intentionally didn’t hyperlink the examples above. It’s possible to get these to work as hyperlinks, but sometimes the MIME settings have trouble interpreting these for Google Earth. The best thing to do is to copy the link and paste it into the network link dialog box in Google Earth.
As mentioned, the Flickr network link has some limitations, such as only showing 20 images. When you have the link loaded, it will display a square thumbnail of the photo overlayed onto the Google Earth map. You can go in and change this to a smaller icon manually so that it doesn’t obscure the map. One nice feature is that the popup box displays all of the tags for that photo with hyperlinks. If you click on the link, it will create a new KML set based on that tag. Pretty cool.
So, to summarize, there are some idiots in the world who disregard Flickr’s community standards. As such, it’s nearly impossible to filter out the pollution, since compliance with these standards is basically voluntary. However, it is possible to limit geotagged images according to location, user, and tagged, although this may be too restrictive. Personally, I like the unrestricted links such as Metaltoad. But for school use, I’ll use one of the safer methods.
[tags]geotagging, Flickr, Community Guidlines, GeoRSS, Google Earth[/tags]