Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Monday, September 12, 2005

Location-Aware Mapping And Interaction: Plazes

Developed by Stefan Kellner and Felix Petersen here is an open collaborative effort for annotating locations.

Called Plazes, this is a grassroots approach to location-aware interaction, which leverages the local network you are connected to as a location reference.

Photo credit: Barb Ballard

As Enki Boehm's blog reported in June, this is a GPS/Galileo for the poor which by examining the MAC Address of the Network's Gateway, discovers which network you're currently using. After you've told it about your location, you can use the location aware functionality to see which people and networks are nearby. So that if you are on a Wi-Fi connection at the Metropolitan Museum in New York city you could easily meet other people there who may have the same desire.

If you're not in the middle of nowhere, this works quite well. So, what Plazes allows you to do, is the sharing of your physical location with the people you know and to discover other places and people via the annotations and comments that other people will make of places they are at.

In technical terms, Plazes makes it possible for you to manifest your physical location within a local network - private or public, wired or unwired.

In some way, this could evolve into being the navigation system for your social life and a fascinating way to make our world even more transparent and accessible.

Within Plazes, a "Plaze" constitutes all of the collectible information about a specific physical location including images, user comments, mapping information, as well as the people currently online from there.



  • Share your location.

  • Provide more context to your current and past whereabouts.

  • Share location-aware information via your site, blog or instant messenger.

  • Discover new people and new plazes like hotspots, restaurants or offices in your vicinity or hook up to people close by.

  • Follow your friends wanderings with the People Radar and the Trazes function.

  • Plazes also allows you to automatically geotag your pictures and your blog posts by using the Plazes open API.

To do its magic, Plazes uses a fingerprint of the network you are logged on as a unique identifier to create a specific Plaze for your digital location. The process is handled automatically by a small program you install on your PC, Macintosh or Linux box. Once this piece of software knows where you are, it opens the corresponding page for your current Plaze in your browser.

To derive this information Plazes utilizes information available through your router or uses your originating IP to determine where you are located on the planet.

"When your current Plaze is not yet in the Plazes database you are being asked to provide a name and a geographic location (i.e. an address) for this new Plaze. You can also annotate this Plaze virtually by adding pictures or comments.

Plazes hooks into Flickr, Google Maps and Multimap, offering a wealth of complementary services augmenting the value of sharing your location openly online.

In Plazes privacy can be still protected and users can log only under whichever pseudonym they like. Further any Plazes user can choose to use the system in full stealth mode. You can even use Plazes without the software launcher, meaning you are visible, but your location is unknown while all features are still available to you.

Plazes does not incorporate any kind of centralized editorial staff. All the information is contributed by you, the user. Also: Plazes does not censor pictures and comments and the description page for a plaze is basically an "open page" editable wiki."

What's in it for you?

Check this:
Plazes incorporates a system called 'Discoverer'. On every Plaze's description Plaze there is a box called 'Discoverer'. If you discovered a Plaze first, this box is yours. In contrast to the other information on that page, this space can only be edited by you and yourself. You can point to your own weblog or use this space to promote your own business.

"By being virtually present at certain Plazes like a record label or a certain restaurant and having conversations via comments at that Plaze, the system is much closer to how we actually interact in the real world.

By being able to annotate real world locations virtually, Plazes augments, enhances and encourages real-world communication rather than simulating it."

Plazes provides an API that lets third party developers create Plazes-enabled, and therefore location-enabled, applications.

Plazes is completely free.

More info.

  • Plazes

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    posted by Robin Good on Monday, September 12 2005, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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