I love old photographs. They show the technologies of the past in ways that words often fail to convey. My last post described the Shorpy website which features a variety of images, mostly beautifully cleaned up images, from the Library of Congress Archives. I wanted to highlight two other websites I came across recently that are mashups of Google Maps and historical photos.
All of these site are getting at a new way of social networking historical images. If they can get enough users, the power of the network will allow all of us to benefit with the accumulated knowledge that is in our collective heads. I hope they live long and prosper. But I think these sites are just the beginning experiments in how to plumb the depths of our knowledge about the more recent past. The pictures are interesting but they lack so many other ways in which they could be made even better. For example, how about building links to Wikipedia articles or automating a simple Google search of keywords. Which brings up another point: none of these sites allow tagging the images which would help to build out a set of images. Other connections could include the vast libraries of online images in Flickr, Picasa, or any number of other photo sharing websites. Online databases of historical newspaper articles could supplement the images in some cases. Just some thoughts.
If you know of any other websites like these or have any other suggestions on how sites like these could be improved, I would appreciate hearing about them. Drop me a comment!