Tuesday, April 27

How To: Map Your Postcards Online

Would anyone be interested in learning how to chart their Postcrossing postcards in Picasa/Google Maps? If not, please go back and reread any of the delightful and highly informative entries with which this blog is liberally doused.

If so, this process I describe assumes four things:
  • You're using Postcrossing.
  • You're scanning in the postcards you receive.
  • You're using Picasa to store these images on your hard drive.
  • You're using Picasaweb to store and display them online.

You don't have to use Picasa: this process works in Flickr and any system that lets you attach a graphic image file to a map program.

1) a) When your postcard comes in, identify the sender's Postcrossing code. Register this in Postcrossing normally.

b) Go ahead and write a nice little note to the sender. It costs you nothing and means so much. It's such a slap in the face--to me, anyway--to hear nothing more than "THANKS" or nothing at all, but perhaps that's my fault for extending my identity schema too far into an online program.

2) When the card is registered, you are taken to a page that sums up the sender's profile and yours. If you've scanned the postcard, you can upload it here to add to your (and their) online gallery.

3) Click on the sender's name/handle--this takes you to the sender's profile. There's a little Google map labeled "Mailbox Location," click on Open in Google Maps beneath that image. This opens up a larger map with some detail as to the sender's registered location. At no time can you see their address through their profile, but if you visited the part of town indicated on this map, you probably wouldn't be far away from them.

4) In the Google Maps search bar (below the address bar in which you type URLs) you'll find a pair of coordinates. Highlight and copy this pair of coordinates. These are, of course, the latitude and longitude of the sender's registered location.

5) In Picasa, find the postcard in your collection and click on it once. Click on the Places button in the lower right of the Picasa window. Paste the coordinates into the search bar, at the bottom of the Places table. Click the magnifying glass icon to search, click OK to confirm the location.

When you view your online gallery, the right column will feature a world map with little red pegs indicating the locations of your postcards. Click on View Map beneath that image for a much larger map with little pictures of your postcards all around the world!

Zoom in, examine the postcards, cycle through your collection: this map is quite navigable and fun to play with. I know I get a little rush when I look at the sheer bulk of postcards from hundreds of nations.

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