Thursday, July 21, 2011

Let Historypin is guiding you

Editor’s Note: Today's guest author is Nick Stanhope, co-founder and executive director of an awesome and inspiring website out of the UK called Historypin. We collaborated with the site for its launch as a beta last year, and Nick is writing a guest post to announce today's official launch of Historypin with a new mobile app and expanded global availability. His team’s labor of love illustrates the amazing ways individuals and organizations can use Google Maps and Street View to share new (or in this case, old) views of the world around us.

A few years ago, just before she passed away, my Gran and I spent a lot of time together looking through some of her old photos and family videos, sharing stories and learning a bit more about each other’s lives. This picture of my Gran and Great Auntie Jenny, working as land girls in the summer of 1943, was one of my favourites.

Everyone can identify with this sense of wistfulness and nostalgia that memories often evoke. Sometimes it’s triggered by talking to a grandparent about what they did at your age, by learning more about the guy in the photo who looks like a Victorian version of your Uncle Phil, or by chatting with an older neighbour about how different Main Street looked fifty years ago.

This is what Historypin is all about: conversations between different generations and neighbours, time spent around sights and sounds of the past, stories remembered and shared and comparisons made between then and now. And today, we’re thrilled to announce its graduation from last year’s beta phase with worldwide availability, the addition of a new mobile app, and a bunch of other exciting new developments.

Historypin is a website and smartphone app that uses Google technology in new and creative ways. You can explore old photos, videos and audio clips that have been “pinned” onto Google Maps (which you can search not only by location but also by date), compare these glimpses of the past with how they look in today by seeing them overlaid onto Street View, immerse yourself in local history using the Android app, journey through Tours and Collections of featured content and, best of all, “pin” your own history as photos, videos, audio clips and stories to the site.

And by continuing to work closely with Google, we’re excited about the improvements to come as well. Later this year, we’ll launch additional new features like embed tools that enable you to put Historypin on your own site, Historypin channels that will allow you to create your own distinct experiences, and pinning games that invite the community to pin content that we and our partners know little about.

But, really, it’s not about the tech. It’s about those conversations - little ones, across families and streets, and big ones, involving millions of citizen historians. Through all of these conversations, we can create a place to explore history in amazing ways and help families and neighbourhoods come together around what we all share: history.

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