So, by now you probably can’t have failed to notice that I’m taking off on a grand tour of Europe – I’m expecting it’ll take about 3 weeks, and that by the end of it, I’ll have done about 3,500 miles.
Of course, being a complete and utter geek, I’ve been looking into how I can keep all my friends and family posted while I’m on the road – and I think I’ve found a solution. Brightkite is a brilliant website which does location-based blogging, but which is also deliciously Web 2.0 in that it spreads its love around. So, I think everything is set up correctly, which means that I can use the rather brilliant Brightkite for iPhone app – it uses the GPS unit built into my iPhone, allowing me to micro-blog (up to 140 characters) and post photos directly to the Brightkite site. From Brightkite, the feeds are picked up by other services, and depending on what you’re interested in, you can choose to see what I’m up to.
By using Yahoo Pipes, for example, you’ll be able to follow my progress of updates on a map (check out the page over on Photocritic for the embedded Brightkites-via-Yahoo-Pipes map)
Of course, whenever I update my profile on Brightkite, (Europe on Brightkite), it automatically cross-posts my photographs to Facebook, but it also posts them to my Grand European Tour set on Flickr. This set, in turn, is fed out via Yahoo Pipes again, which allows me to show a photo gallery inside the Photocritic page, too.
So, so far, we have location-based map, and a live image gallery of all the images I upload from my iPhone – but what if you don’t want to check my Photocritic blog or Flickr all the time? The weakness of the blog, of course, is that whilst its contents will be updated, the actual RSS feed entry for that blog won’t change, so if you’re keen to keep yourself posted, you wouldn’t know what’s going on. So, in addition to the above, I set up a Twitter account – @3500miles – to which the Brightkite site can post my updates. In a way, it’s a much nicer interface, because it allows you in 140 characters to be told exactly where in the world I am, and what I’m up to.
Finally, both Twitter and Brightkite have RSS feeds, so if you prefer Twitter’s formatted version of the updates, you can subscribe to the @3500miles Twitter account RSS feed – or if you prefer the slightly more verbose feed which can also include any photos I post via BrightKite, you can subscribe to the BrightKite RSS feed.
So why am I going out of my way to interconnect all these services? Simply, it’s a question of time and money – I want to keep people updated, but my main priority is to get from A to B (through Z, considering the length of the trip), and preferably spending as little as time as possible updating all my social networking sites. The iPhone takes care of most of that for me – by taking one photo, writing one update, and posting it to Brightkite once, I spend as little time and as little roaming data charges as possible, while getting as much bang for the buck as possible.
Of course, I don’t only take photos with my iPhone – I’ll also bring my Canon IXUS pocket camera and my Canon EOS 450D with a 50mm f/1.4 lens (I’m sort of worried about going on the road for 3 weeks and only bringing one lens… but that’s the nature of travelling light, and the 50mm f/1.4 is one of my all-time favourite lenses, and it’s light-weight and small, so it makes a great travelling companion)… When I copy stuff off those cameras, I can post it directly to the Brightkite website via my laptop, and the same distribution will happen as when I post stuff from my iPhone.
I’ll let you know how it goes… 140 characters at the time