Tag Archives: history

Distributed Community-Based Archival for Retail/Consumption History

I was out helping a friend shop for shoes the other day, and, as I often do when facing a moment of boredom, checked in on my phone with Foursquare and took a picture of where I was. Not of people, of course, because that would be creepy, but of a colorful display of heels.

But then I got to thinking about that. I’m odd – that is strange, because I try to post a picture most of the time I check in somewhere. Over time I’ve accumulated a kind of history of my life, but a very corporate-consumer kind of one, as stores and restaurants are the places that are most easily checked in to. In a sense it’s a very different kind of photo history than those we more purposefully curate – as opposed to taking pictures of friends and family or events for instance.

BUT – what if we all did this, all of the time? Not only would we be able to look back and know something about store layouts, aesthetic and product trends at a given moment in our past, but with enough people taking pictures and attaching them to metadata (location, time, date, store) automatically we’d have a kind of social history that would be much more owned by the public than a given specific company (save for maybe Foursquare, but the photos are also stored on our personal devices, at least for now, until Apple finds a way to lock that out too). Clearly we could all be just taking pictures of the world around us all of the time, but Foursquare is a way to provide incentive and encourage it.

SO – I think the next logical step would be to see if you could build off of the FourSquare API to sort, archive and store all of these photos in a format that would help them to tell stories. Not unlike when you see pictures people have taken attached to Google Maps, but with a lot more of them for any given specific place – you can imagine Starbucks in May 2010, November 2010, January 2011, and so on, with different angles and emphasis. You could then page up Starbucks and see a visual history of it in an instant. Neat! Crowd-sourcing! Useful? Maybe not. But the kind of thing us information scientists who think about social behaviors might dig.

Iraq war predictions were a little off

The National Security Archives have just secured a pre-Iraq war slideshow by the US military given to civilian leaders detailing their projections on how Iraq would look 3, 12, 45 months after invasion. At this point in the conflict (we are just beginning the 47th month of the war) we are beyond their scope of prediction. The last prediction given in the slide show is 45 months at which point we should be completely disengaged with direct military action, with a possibility of 5,000 troops in the area just in case.

Surprise! Last month President Bush approved another troop increase of 20,000 troops which would bring the total number above 150,000.

Thanks to the “National Security Archives”:http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/ for their work in securing the information. I”m just glad people still now what the Freedom of Information Act is. For more detail, check out the “New York Times article”:http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/15/washington/15military.html?ex=1329195600&en=ab52e1ac30c1c717&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss that led me to this interesting revelation.