Google's 'Geographic Web' and conflicting interfaces

Brady points out on O'Reilly Radar some of the new layers in GoogleEarth. Most interesting though is his recap of feedback from Flickr's Dan Catt on why Google isn't currently displaying Flickr photos (despite perhaps the obvious that (Flickr! < Yahoo!) != Google).

His claim is that they take their bounding box parameters in different order: bbox=x1,y1,x2,y2. vs. box=x1,y1,x2,y2. However, based on my research of the API's, they look comparable. For example, Google Earth's view based refresh will do a bounding box request:

longitude_west, latitude_south, longitude_east, latitude_north

and the Flickr photo search expects the following BBox:

minimum_longitude, minimum_latitude, maximum_longitude, maximum_latitude

You can see that minimum_longitude is the same parameter as longitude_west, and so on. So I'm not sure why Dan Catt uses that as his explanation that the parameters don't line up.

However, as Brady points out, what would really help everyone is if the services all spoke common languages, like Flickr outputting KML, or GoogleEarth consuming GeoRSS (since Flickr can output GeoRSS). My money would be on the latter, since there seems less impetus for a company like Flickr/Yahoo to export their data in a proprietary format.

Of course, the translation between the two formats, especially for basic geometry such as points, is trivial, so implementing both on both sides, or simple conversion utilities in the middle, would be straight-forward.

Extra Credit


For extra credit, implement said conversion utility to convert KML <=> GeoRSS using XSLT, or other language of your choice.

There are also various other Flickr/GoogleEarth utilities out there like displaying grids of the # of Flickr images in GoogleEarth.

Pleasant Surprise


While researching parts of this post, I found a new Flickr API method that I didn't know existed before:

flickr.photos.getWithGeoData - "Returns a list of your geo-tagged photos." However, you can't do a search within this set other than by date. But at least now you can pull up a trail of your travels based on your photos.

"Where were you on the night of the 13th?!"

In the past, when using my Feed URL to get geotagged photos, I just made sure that photos had a tag "geotagged" and then grabbed all the photos with that tag.

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About the Author

Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.