Thursday, August 11, 2005

Geotagging, blogchalking, and simple ego massage

[Keyword: ]. Always good to have a comment commented on (and to comment back on the commented comment. Okay, I'll stop now.) - Steve Outing has picked up on some of my thoughts on 'mapping the news' in response to his earlier article.

This prompted me to revisit a term I came across earlier this year - blogchalking. Blogchalking is a technique intended to help people find blogs (and presumably websites) in a particular area. Simply put, it involved placing a simple line of text on your site - for example: this is my blogchalk: United Kingdom, West Midlands, Birmingham. A search on Google for "blogchalk: United Kingdom, West Midlands, Birmingham" would throw up any other sites with a similar phrase (but only in the sense that a search for "online journalism" would throw up sites with that phrase).

However, further digging proved quite fruitless in finding out where this technique had come from, and whether it actually works. The site where it seems to have originated - www.blogchalking.tk - is obviously now owned by someone who just sells advertising. It takes a trip to the Internet Archive to find an older version of the site from the days when it actually mattered. Either way, it's clear the technique seems to have died a death.

Much better is geotagging, a little bit of HTML that resides in your meta tags and helps identify your geographical location (or the location of a place that you're writing about). Andrew Turner's article at Linux Journal gives a great overview of what you can do with this, including some very useful comments. After a quick read the following metadata was added to this blog's template HTML (I've omitted the triangular brackets as otherwise Blogger assumes I want to place meta tags here and makes them invisible):
meta name="ICBM" content="52.5382, -1.8347"
meta name="geo.position" content="52.5382;-1.8347"
meta name="geo.region" content="GB"
meta name="geo.placename" content="Birmingham"

If nothing else this will give you an excuse to use an "Intercontinental Ballistic Missile" tag (aren't you glad the American military no longer owns the internet?).

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