Why I Love the Internet So Much

So I’m editing OpenStreetMap tonight (for the first time) and I find a place a few miles from my house called the Vanport Wetlands. The map says there’s a radio tower there, that it belongs to the radio station KGW AM and that it was built in May of 1984. Very cool. Makes me wish I had an OpenStreetMap augmented reality app on my phone, or some way to easily see information about all the Points of Interest on OpenStreetMap within a given area around where I am.

But then I highlight the letters KGW AM in my browser and my browser plug-in from Apture pops up. Ok, first I searched the wetlands with Apture and learned about its history, saw some photos – awesome augmentation of OpenStreetMap. But then I searched KGW AM and I found a link to a website about the history of Portland’s radio stations. One of the entries was about the Vanport radio tower being decommissioned for wetlands restoration in the year 2000! The history page says that the local Port Authority built a multi-media website about the tower’s history as penance. But the website is no longer up- there’s a domain squatter on it now.

Enter Archive.org! I loaded the tower memorial site in Archive.org, read all about it, then went back and edited the OpenStreetMap entry for the tower in the wetlands to include a note saying it was decommissioned and the link to the memorial site via archive.org! Now future users of OpenStreetMap will be able to see that new historical note. Thanks internet!

How awesome is that?? I think it’s crazy awesome. So many different trends intersect in that experience: community edited content, location, contextual search ala Apture, blogging or at least easy publishing ala the local radio history site and do not forget content archiving thanks to the fabulous Archive.org!

The end result? Meaningful enrichment of my relationship with the place I live, and an opportunity for me to further enrich the relationships others have with this place.

I sure do love the internet. I’m sure those old radio shows broadcast through that tower were cool too – but media is changing radically, is it not?

  • Nice Thought.
    Another reasons to keep the internet neutral 🙂

  • Reminds me of my favorite post you wrote for ReadWriteWeb: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/everyblock_portland.php

    This particular writing voice of yours is a good one! Also a lucrative way to sell loads of downloads as a “how-to” series.

    As in teach / train local businesses how to use the neighborhood web?

  • Greetings,

    Well I found your blog via the user diaries at Open Street Map.org! Having read the above, I instantly installed Apture, both as a Safari extension and on my blog (see above.)

    I, too, have had such fun with Open Street Map. I add features related to my job as a helicopter pilot, both via the internet and using an iPhone application called iLOE. That little gem allows you to pop nodes into OSM with your iPhone. I do that when on the move, and then go online and edit the information. SO…. now it’s much easier to add details making use of Apture, as you rightly point out, so that information I add is correct and as up to date as possible

    Thank you for the “head’s up” on all this.


  • It amazes me what you can find online

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