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January 07, 2003

Know Your Site's Place

Looking to geek out? Check out GeoURL — a younger, simpler cousin of GeoTags. While the web is worldwide, many websites have a place at their heart, a virtual (if not physical) home. Now you can see if your site has neighbors.

General bot baiting like BlogChalking never really interested me. Without a controlled vocabulary (very important with an indexing system — ask any librarian), and by depending on independent search engines like Google, the system will always be only moderately useful.

But these geographic indexes intrigued me. While both GeoURL and GeoTags offer some "free text" fields like site names, their core are longstanding, internationally-recognized coordinates. Latitude and longitude, simple numbers that are about as perfect a controlled vocabulary as you can get. An almost pre-made industry standard.

Not only that, they're based on metadata. So not only won't your entry fade as a blog post disappears into your archives (or below the depth crawled by a bot), but conceivably future bots by any developer can read, interpret, and present them. Mapquest could incorporate them. I bet Google Labs is already playing with them.

Perhaps most practically important, though, is that GeoURL and GeoTags have active bots and live databases. Literally seconds within submitting your properly-tagged site, their server visits your page, sucks in your coordinates, and plugs you into its global map of websites.

True, neither site is pretty. Hell, they're practically user unfriendly. Instead of starting with cool and fumbling with the architecture, this is clearly an example of scientific minds with a great idea who will need some time to develop their packaging. So it takes some patience to figure out how to determine your coordinates, or to tag your site for GeoURL or GeoTags (though GeoURL proudly proclaims it accepts GeoTags formatting as well).

But I'm confident they'll clean things up. And for now, if you're brave enough to dive in, you can experience the glee of being an early adopter. Heck, right now a search for geographically-tagged sites in the city of Honolulu pull up only the sites I just added tonight!

Impatient? Let me help you out.

Below are the meta tags for both GeoURL and GeoTags for what GeoURL pegs as the heart of Honolulu (the coordinates linked above). If you insert these tags in your page, and submit your site to be crawled, it'll peg your site to that spot:

<meta name="ICBM" content="21.32,-157.83">
<meta name="DC.title" content="Your Site Name">
<meta name="geo.position" content="21.3,-157.8">
<meta name="geo.placename" content="Honolulu">
<meta name="geo.region" content="US-HI">

Of course, it's more fun to use the location of your home, or your favorite local landmark. The Census Bureau's Tiger Map Server is a fairly easy way to get the coordinates.

The GeoURL submit page is here. The GeoTags submit page is here.

Hope to see more neighbors soon!

And feel free to send a link to this post to any bloggers in Hawaii you know. I want the world to see there's life out here!

Posted by Prophet Zarquon at January 07, 2003 10:38 PM


Posted by Linkmeister on January 8, 2003 10:22 AM:

Um, one caveat: if you're paranoid about stalkers, maybe Honolulu's coordinates would be sufficient; I don't know that I want my absolute long/lat proclaimed to the world.

Having said that, what a nifty thing!

Posted by Ryan on January 8, 2003 10:39 AM:

Tee hee! True. I wish there was a spot where the coordinates of a generally accepted city's heart could be found. I used the Hawaii State Capitol (Lat 21.3083477, Lon 157.838913) for HawaiiNews.com.

But I did use my home location for my personal site, because as it is I'm listed anyway.

I like the use of the term "ICBM Address Server." It's an old USENET term.

Posted by Albert on January 8, 2003 11:48 AM:

"There's not much here yet!"it says for Honolulu.
Ain't it the truth. :)

Posted by Linkmeister on January 8, 2003 2:46 PM:

So Ryan, you added the code to both your main index page at lightfantastic and to the subdirectory containing In Media Res, right?

Posted by Ryan on January 8, 2003 4:24 PM:

Yeah. I thought it was for domains specifically, but read elsewhere the guy who created it (the same fellow behind Memepool) intended it for blogs... so I added my blog, too.

I don't think it'd be a problem if every HawaiiStories.com-hosted weblog was added to the database... If anyone needs help with that, just let me know!

Posted by Linkmeister on January 8, 2003 7:21 PM:

Yeah, reading the site (and boy, were you right about user-unfriendly!) it seems to imply domains-only, but that didn't make a lot of sense to me. Just thought I'd ask.

Posted by Vivi on January 8, 2003 8:53 PM:

Hmmm...I was able to add my blog to it with no troubles. I suppose since I stuck in my exact coordinates (hello stalkers!) it recognized it as a different entry than the TLD?

Posted by ali on January 8, 2003 9:12 PM:

Very cool! I used the coordinates for the State Building in Hilo. (It houses the courts and the tax office among others.) Maybe I should have used the police department address or the jail . . . or the zoo? :)

Off the subject here, has anyone heard from my closest neighbor, Maggie McQuade? I think everyone else is on O'ahu.

Posted by Linkmeister on January 9, 2003 12:31 PM:

FYI, the geourl site is down till tomorrow. :(

Posted by Linkmeister on January 10, 2003 3:02 PM:

Back up, and I'm listed (complete with button on blog page). Fair number of Hawai'i folks now listed, althought the USMC aviation patch guy seems to have mistaken Southern California for here. ;)

Posted by Carl on January 10, 2003 10:35 PM:

> mistaken Southern California for here. ;)

Well, sorta. While I was submitting my URL, I also submitted the site I run for my dad... who lives in Oceanside, CA. My bad! Double plus bad that I don't have a blog.

Posted by Linkmeister on January 11, 2003 10:24 AM:

Carl, perhaps it's a sign you should have one? :)

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