Border Patrol, or: Where's Dallas Again?
When a user geotags a photograph in Flickr, they are prompted to choose from a list of place names that match the photograph's location most accurately. For example, was it South Bank or Waterloo; Shoreditch or Haggerston? This technique is called reverse geocoding, and it's frankly, very difficult, as they explain.
Flickr understands that places are more than unique geographic identifiers; that they are mental models people use to identify with location. Moreover, they are fluid and opinionated, varying based on a number of parameters such as context, ambition and personal background. In true, wisdom of the crowds style, Flickr use the combined selections of their thousands of photographers to compute the shape of these places.Confounding? You betcha -- even to folks who understand it. But I think it has something to do with the fact that people who think they're taking photos in Dallas are really, um, not. --Robert Wilonsky