Monday, May 29, 2006

Real World Wiki Gets Closer

location based services

by Russell Buckley on May 29th, 2006 in Mobile Society, New launches
Last August, I gave a speech at Wikimania (a conference for passionate Wikipedists) in which I envisioned a Real World Wikipedia. The idea I was promoting was that we could annotate our real world environment with a kind of virtual graffiti, which we could access via our mobile phones.
The graffiti could be factual (Wikipedia style), perhaps describing famous residents of a house you were walking past, or commercial - a local restaurant promoting their dish of the day. Clearly, commercial messages would be controversial, but provided they could be pull-based, or at least only served with the user’s prior explicit permission, they would probably be acceptable to most of us.
The factual annotations would have to be populated by a Wikipedia style operation, with volunteers inputting the text and tagging the locations. A commercial operation would simply never be able to deploy enough information to make the idea interesting or useful.
This world is coming closer though. Steve Rubel points us to Wikimapia, which allows us to leave annotations on Google Maps. Bizarrely, when I looked at the UK, one of the only annotations so far is JK Rowling’s grandmother’s house.
So, assuming that this takes off and people start tagging places with information, all we need now is a way of accessing this with our mobiles in a usable and useful way. This isn’t without its challenges as when there aren’t many tags out there, it’ll get very boring if you have to pull the information down as you’ll be forever searching for stuff that isn’t there. On the opposite side of the coin, if there was suddenly quite a lot of information and your phone bleeped every time there was something to discover, it would start to be very annoying indeed.
However, I think that this is the beginning of something very powerful indeed. The real world is colliding with the digital one and it’ll have profound implications for the way we live and work.

3 Responses to “Real World Wiki Gets Closer”
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1 Szymon May 29th, 2006 at 8:52 am
one of the ways to link physical objects to the virtual reality with mobile is this: To be honest I like the idea of linking “real” wiki to the physical world much more then the idea to rewrite the wiki for the map purposes. If someone now finds a way to connect Google Maps with that would be something. Then all you need would be a mobile phone with GPS…
2 Ray May 29th, 2006 at 3:03 pm
You might also want to take a look at this research project:! Regards, Ray
3 Ray May 29th, 2006 at 3:05 pm
Sorry… disregard the ‘!’ - The URL is of course

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