Thing 5: Photos + Maps + Apps: Historypin / WhatWasThere / SepiaTown

3 Jun

Thing 5 provides a great way to engage with your community, and can open up this interaction across the world. Last week was all about looking at maps, but now we get to throw in photos, history, and personal stories.

Historypin, WhatWasThere, and SepiaTown are three sites that allow you – as an individual or an institution – to overlay new and historic photographs onto Google Maps to recreate the way places were in past, show how they are now, encourage people to share their stories, and to create something of a digital memory bank. When you combine these sites with smartphones you have a fun and interactive way to share collections, knowledge, and memories with your community.


  • Download the Historypin and/or WhatWasThere apps to your phone. Compare these with the desktop versions and SepiaTown (no mobile app).What can you do on the desktop version that you can’t do with the app, and vice versa?
  • Can you find any photographs uploaded in your area?
  • Take a photo with your mobile and pin it (upload it) to the map. What information do you need to pin? Can you get the location right?

Historypin screenshot
Historypin screenshot by Katrina McAlpine via CC license on Flickr


  • Go for a walk with the Historypin app. Use the map to find photos near you. If there aren’t any on the map take photos of local buildings with your phone and upload them.
  • Find a photo on the map and try taking a ‘Historypin Repeat’ – overlaying the old photograph with one taken on the spot with your phone.
  • Create a tour or a collection on Historypin. You don’t have to upload your own photos to do this, you can use photos uploaded by other people. Create this around something you are interested in, or what you think your community might be interested in, for example schools, libraries, monuments, or sports fields. There is plenty of information in the Historypin How To Guides to help you get started.
  • Can you contribute a story to a photo on Historypin? This might be in your local area, from a holiday, your home town, or your own subject speciality. Can you do this from the mobile app?


  • How could you use Historypin to engage with your community? Could you work with a group like a local historical society, volunteers, or teens to upload photographs, share stories, and add their perspectives to Historypin?
  • Could you integrate Historypin with a particular event or collection in your library? Could you create a Historypin collection or a tour to move outside of the library walls?
  • What happens with the photographs you are uploading to these sites? Do you still own the content? Are there any issues with copyright?
  • How long does it take to pin a photo or create a tour? How will you maintain your content? How will you respond if people add stories to your photographs?
  • Are there other ways to encourage engagement with your community through photographs? This could be a project such as Mosman Memories; using Metadata Games to enhance your photographic information; or creating photographic blog pages using a site such as Tumblr that your community can contribute to.

From Abigail: That fantastic introduction was written by @katreeeena. Keep an eye out for this week’s email, which will have all the details of our interactive activity this week- hint: it is based in Facebook, but will probably slide over into Twitter as well!

This post is a remix of Thing 5.


4 Responses to “Thing 5: Photos + Maps + Apps: Historypin / WhatWasThere / SepiaTown”

  1. Cath Sheard June 3, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    Oh I like this! Because I manage a museum as well as two libraries, I can see all sorts of possibilities. Patea, where one of my libraries is, suffered a major storm event last year so the centre of town has changed dramatically – it’d be cool to record some of that. Cautiously excited…

  2. rome1994 June 5, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    Hi a great blog, informative and interesting. I like the look of your blog, font and pictures. Have fun in the social media class. I now love Twitter.


  1. Woche 5: Fotos + Maps + Apps | Ger 23 Mobile Things - July 22, 2013

    […] Beitrag ist ein Remix von 23mobilethings und anz23mobilethings – Thing […]

  2. Thing 5 : Photos + Maps + Apps | 23 Mobile Things - February 15, 2014

    […] Remix from the original 23 Mobile things : 23 Mobile Things – Thing 5 ANZ 23 Mobile things – Thing 5 […]

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