Friday, May 01, 2020

Local Sightseeing with Wikipedia

Like most people my world has recently become a lot smaller. In the last six weeks I have not ventured more than two miles from my house. During this time I have walked and cycled nearly every square inch of that two mile radius - seemingly over & over again. However, despite this over familiarity, there is still a lot I can learn about my local neighborhood by using a few interactive maps.

Wiki Atlas is an interesting map which allows you to discover locations, places and points of interest near your home which are featured on Wikipedia. Center the Wiki Atlas interactive map on your home and you can see notable local historical events, buildings and other locations which have articles on Wikipedia. On the map colored markers indicate featured locations, categorized into culture, geography, society and STEM. If you click on a marker you can read the first paragraph of the Wikipedia article and, if you are interested, click through to read the whole article on Wikipedia.

You can also find nearby points of interest using Wikimapia. For over eleven years Wikimapia has provided a great map based resource for discovering information about locations and points of interest around the world.

In essence Wikimapia is a website which lets you describe locations in the same way that Wikipedia allows you to add and edit articles in its wiki database. Like Wikipedia it provides an invaluable resource for researching and discovering information about the world - only with Wikimapia every entry is a real-world location. If you center the map on your home you can discover more about your immediate neighborhood simply by clicking on the highlighted areas on the map.

Zooming in on Wikimapia reveal ever finer granularity. For example if you are zoomed out on California and click on San Francisco you will see the entry for the whole city. If you zoom in on San Francisco you can view entries on local neighborhoods, parks etc. Zoom in even more and you can begin to access entries for individual buildings and landmarks in the city.

Geopedia is another interesting way to discover information about local places of interest. Like Wiki Atlas Geopedia can be used to find and read Wikipedia entries about points of interest around any location. Geopedia uses the Wikipedia API to load all the Wikipedia entries for places around a location on an OpenStreetMap based map. Enter a location into the search bar or right-click on the map and markers will show all the Wikipedia entries near your chosen location.

If you click on the YouTube logo you can also discover YouTube videos which have been geo-tagged in your neighborhood. In my experience many of the displayed videos have no actual relevance to my local neighborhood - and presumably have just been uploaded by someone who lives near me. However if you scroll through the listed videos you can usually find some which feature your local neighborhood.

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