Geotagging is a feature

Flickr’s native geotagging integration has re-kindled the debate on whether one can create sticky community sites around geotagging. That’s the wrong question to ask.

Geotagging is a feature. It hasn’t been hard to do technically for quite a while. Just look at the many ways to geotag Flickr. What has always been difficult to do (and that’s not unique for geotagging) is to gather the lat/long meta-data. If a business is paying, the difficulty has to do with managing local recruits. If it’s user-generated content, the challenge is motivating people to contribute the meta-data.

Hence, the right questions to ask are (a) what are the community scenarios that would motivate people to contribute lat/long data and (b) whether these are defensible over time.

The big sites have a clear advantage here because of scale and reach. Reach & the chance of exposure stroke people’s egos. Scale helps free-riders. It doesn’t take that many people on Flickr geotagging Kapalua Bay for people to get a sense of the place. In a smaller community, that’s harder to achieve. Free riders benefit especially when accessing a service over “narrow” channels such as mobile, where the ability to search/browse/interact is limited.

Therefore, smaller sites have to focus on aggregating unique content, ideally something that lends itself to richer interactivity than the stock content management, rating & sharing with friends of the big guys. By that measure, sites like Platial won’t cut it (what’s there for me beyond geotagging?) but NearHere might, if the interactivity element gets a boost.

About Simeon Simeonov

I'm an entrepreneur, hacker, angel investor and reformed VC. I am currently Founder & CTO of Swoop, a search advertising platform. Through FastIgnite I invest in and work with a few great startups to get more done with less. Learn more, follow @simeons on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn.
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4 Responses to Geotagging is a feature

  1. I think one of the hottest of these geotagging services is plazes.com. Instead of just tagging there is more interaction and sharing of information (tracing). With the new mobile launcher there will be even more community features still to come. I beleive that such a service has a good chance to make abreak through not today but maybe tomorrow. It is all about the crossing the chasm thing…

  2. jason wilson says:

    Hey Simeon, your link to NearHere is borked, it’s pointing to Platial.

    BTW, you’re right that Goecoding/tagging IS just a feature .. but it’s a feature that makes it easy to build maps of things that are important to you, then export them, or send them around. Platial becomes a tool to build something of value, an interface to a technology that may be too complicated for the average internet user to access otherwise. The ability to make a map of stuff, without getting an api key, without hacking even a snippet of html.

    One new feature that you may be interested in is something we call PlaceBlogging. It allows any Place (a shop, a concert venue, a park) to act as a repository for all the commentary that anyone wants to post about it, photos, videos, tags, stories, reviews, etc. We see this becoming quite interesting for businesses which are already community oriented, and understand the benefits of directing their customers to a single interface for that connection.

  3. Jason, thanks for the catch. Fixed.

  4. Gordon Gould says:

    Great and provocative post that got me to thinking about not just feature-sets but standard vs unique emergent data-sets, particularly as it relates to product discovery.

    I blogged about it here: http://gordon.blogsmith.com/2006/09/13/getting-beyond-most-recent-most-popular/

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