Powerhouse street view mashup

Recently I’ve been thinking of more and more ways that museums and libraries can expose their collections via other methods besides typing a search term into a search box – yawn…

Like most Australians I’ve been playing around with the street view data Google have added in for Australia cities and it got me thinking, how could this be used by museums and libraries.  An obvious candidate is photographs as many photographs are of street views. Earlier this year the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney joined the Flickr Commons with their Tyrrell collection.  In a report on their first 3 months at Flickr, Seb Chan noted that over 50% of the photos were geocoded.  This provided the perfect scenario for an experiment as every Flickr account has a geoRSS feed.  Could this RSS feed be incorporated with a Google maps street view to provide historical photos and contemporary street images side by side?

After about 30 minutes of coding I had a nice proof of concept demonstration page happening.  The interface is a little clunky, but it works.  This could be improved by using the Flickr API rather than the RSS feed to generate the images. There are some issues which you can’t resolve, like the rotation of the street view compared to the photo, but this isn’t really a show stopper.

I would love to know your thoughts?  Am I on to something here?



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14 responses to “Powerhouse street view mashup”

  1. I think you are onto something Paulie! I heard Seb talk about the possibility of doing this at the Museums Australia Futures Forum earlier this year and I’m pretty sure this is what he had in mind. I know he has been playing with it himself, but I’ve not seen the mash-up on their site yet. I’d be interested to read what he thinks.
    Great stuff!

  2. Bobby

    I agree: you’re definitely onto something. I think this will be very popular with all cultural institutions – and their users. I remember how popular ‘Then and Now’ calendars used to be. You’ve moved the concept into a whole new idiom, which is terrific. I think this is great.

  3. […] other Commons news, an industrious chap called Paul Hagon has built a great “Then and Now” mashup using geotagged Commons photos from the Powerhouse Museum and Google’s street view so you can […]

  4. I love the Sydney then and now thing. I’ve done quite a few on my blog. The oldest are here: http://flickr.com/photos/23623601@N03/sets/72157604225021655/ I should’ve added newer ones from the blog, but laziness …

  5. Love the idea Paul!

  6. This is great. I live in a city that has every street available for “street view” (Houston, TX.) I’m betting a few techno-history people would love this for the city.

    I’d be curious if older street views will be made available as Google remaps cities. So many buildings are torn down in Houston I already look to Google maps to show me what is now gone.

  7. Daddy Sucrose

    Hey buddy. Look I’m an imagineer. I’ve been one since I was a kid, so I don’t care if disney has a copyright on that one because I don’t believe in copyright anyways. Plus I like to share ideas. Sooo. What you got here is like a living memory type thing. HIstory is always in the remaking. Your helping to bridge the old-hard-to-access-type-stuff with the newer everything-is-miscellaneous digital info-media. I mean its neat that people can see what places used to look like when they go there lets say, but cooler still would be to add another layer. Stories. And not only that, now with the mobile web, or Internet of things, Dataspace, GeoSpatial Web – or what ever you want to call it, people can access that information instantly. So here is a service. I’m at a place and I take a picture of it, with my gphone or my iphone or whatever and then gps-ification and all that happens and I have access to all kinds of information – like promps that tell me additional information about that place I just took a picture of. “Holy sh.. honey did you know that this place used to be… and they used to do this to people here… ” use your imagination people. Or I can access audio clips of some dude who is now like 99 years old telling me how as a kid he used to buy ice cream at this place around the corner – and how it is still there! Think of the tourist implications as well as revealing the existing latent social capital. Word up my friend. Oh ya, there is umm this thing in New York called I believe YellowArrow and another in Toronto called Murmur – In short murmur is this – your walking down the street and you see a sign on a streetpost it says murmur and has a telephone number to call, you call and hear stories that people can record, historical and all about the location where you are standing etc. So mash it all up baby…Anyways playing with ideas, soo funnnnnn.

    let me know what you think, there is so much more where that came from.

  8. Steven


    That bridge is not the Pacific Hwy Bridge, it is the original railway bridge near Brooklyn. The bridge was demolished in the 1940s but the pylons remain.

    As an alternative to Street View, when that is not available, why not do a link to hybrid view in Google Maps.

  9. Paul Hagon

    Steven, thanks for the information. I’ll pass it on to the Powerhouse for their records. That’s a good idea about linking to the hybrid view, I’ll add that in.

  10. […] on from my previous then and now Flickr commons meets streetview demonstration, I started to think of how could I bring that […]

  11. I found this site, hoping that someone had developed a google layer for now and then photos :). I use this with interactive whiteboard software by overlaying the second image then gradually making it more transparent to reveal the first. I’d love it if this mashup would be developed!

  12. […] Powerhouse Museum street view mashup […]

  13. […] licence. Once the images are in The Commons, it is easy to locate these images on Google Maps. Paul Hagon has used a Google Street View mash-up to compare ‘then’ and ‘now’ […]

  14. […] town where I grew up with a new perspective thanks to Dean, Doug, ZeFrank, Stephen, Alan, Jim and Paul Hagon. Paul’s work had a deep impression on me as it was the first time I had understood the power […]