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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sharing photos with current owners of former homes

Like a lot of people, I have pictures of houses where I used to live. Some of them go back quite a long ways, and they show things like a neighborhood that had just gone in and didn't have any trees yet. Others show trees as tiny little saplings which over many years have grown into massive things which provide wonderful shade.

I'd love to be able to share some of these old pictures with the current residents of those locations. I think some people might find it interesting to see what their house looked like when it was first built, or even while it was being built in some cases. Normally, you have to be the first owner of a house to get that kind of insight, or find a neighbor who was around back then and still remembers what it was like.

This leads to my latest half-baked idea: a way to post pictures online with specific tagging that's based more on addresses and less on the usual GPS lat/long stuff. Computers like to think in terms of GPS data, but (normal) people generally don't. They tend to think in terms of street addresses in the US and other countries with similar numbering systems.

How cool would it be if you could plug in an address and find pictures which had been uploaded by previous owners just out of the goodness of their hearts? You could also pass on the love by finding old pictures of the other places you had lived and uploading them for those people. It would be a big bunch of warm fuzzy feelings.

There's another part to this which comes to mind as well. If you write code and do it with a certain awareness of future people who will come along and maintain it (including "future you"), you probably leave comments explaining why something was done. Houses have a fair amount of this kind of hackery going on too, so why not a way to leave comments?

Granted, with a house, you can physically leave papers somewhere to be found by the new owners when they rip down a wall or look in a dusty built-in cabinet, but such things can be lost or discarded accidentally. It seems like being able to say things like "the water heater is there because that used to be a back porch and thus used to connect to the outside world directly" could help a lot of people resolve mysteries which otherwise would sit there forever.

I know I really like being able to find some nugget of data which explains why something unusual is the way it is. Being able to provide those nuggets and effectively send them into the future to preemptively answer certain questions seems like the logical way to "give back".

Maybe I'll make this, get a bunch of venture capital, and then sell for millions of dollars after creating the next undiscovered social network: meet with people who used to live where you live and vice-versa!