If you’re a hyperlocal blogger or other WordPress user who publishes location based content, or are interested in publishing location based information, you may be excited by some recent developments in location awareness plugins for web browsers.
Mozilla Geode and Google Gears Geolocation are browser plugins that can determine your location via wifi triangulation. This is a technique iPhone users will be familiar with but which has not been used a great deal for wifi devices generally.
Geode and Geolocation allow wifi enabled devices (such as smart phones and laptops) to find, store and share details of their location. If you install either on your laptop or wifi device, your browser can determine where you are, and then share that information with other services.
In my efforts to build a truly local news and information service for the Fitzroy community, there is one technical step left to be completed. Fitzroyalty is a WordPress blog that uses the GeoPress plugin to geotag the locations of places discussed in posts to the emerging GeoRSS standard. By geotagging content I can provide location specific information. Read more about Geotagging for beginners with Mapufacture GeoPress.
Currently this information can only be manually correlated with the user’s location by searching for a street or browsing a map. An additional tool is required to enable users to automatically retrieve location specific information relevant to their current or preferred location. What is missing is a link between WordPress and Geode or Geolocation. What is required is a WordPress plugin that takes the location awareness data from the browser plugin and uses that to prioritise or sort the blog’s content by location.
Such a plugin would enable readers to automatically retrieve posts about places closest to them. Users could view content by location (the post about the closest location first) as well as by date (usually most recent post first). Sites like Outside.In (via its Radar function) already do this, but such sophisticated services cannot yet be provided by WordPress bloggers.
The potential for these tools is immense. The growth of the semantic web, where content contains sophisticated contextual metadata, will be paralleled by the growth of the geoweb. The geoweb can be defined as the combination of location awareness and location-specific content. As more content is geotagged, Google searches could become like Outside.In’s Radar view of the world, showing users content about places nearest to them or for locations of their choosing.
I want Fitzroyalty to be the best hyperlocal blog in Australia, but that is for readers to decide. Fitzroyalty is probably already the most technically sophisticated hyperlocal blog in Australia in providing geotagged location specific content, and it may also currently be the most prolific hyperlocal blog in Australia. Read more about the current status of hyperlocal media in Australia.
Who will build the missing link between the WordPress Geopress plugin and location awareness browser plugins like Google Gears Geolocation and Mozilla Geode? I have the conceptual skills to see how the tools create cumulative value, but I’m not a programmer. I have already logged this idea at the official WordPress community and with Geopress on the customer service site GetSatisfaction. I hope someone will want to pursue this project.