Worldcam lets you search Instagram photos by location

@nickross
An Apple employee's lunch

Do you want to know what the people at Apple’s headquarters are having for lunch, Instagram-style? There’s an app – er, new web-based search engine – for that.

It’s called Worldcam, and it’s a new search engine -- designed by Swedish creative collective Kinda like a big deal -- that lets you search for Instagram photos by location. Creators Oskar Sundberg and Per Stenius (along with a small team of friends) built Worldcam using APIs from Instagram, Foursquare, Geonames, and Geoplugin. It provides an artistic look at what people are doing all around the world, thanks to location-based services and mobile photo uploads.

Worldcam is pretty simple: first, type in any city in the world. The default city will likely be wherever you’re located at the moment, assuming you’re not tripping up location-based services by using a proxy server. Then type in a public address -- parks, plazas, and apartment complexes count, as do businesses and other public buildings -- and hit search. Worldcam will display a feed of all the Instagram photos that have been tagged at that location.

For example, this is what you get if you search for our (PCWorld/Macworld/TechHive’s) offices in San Francisco:

@jonseff
Our new office
@jsnell
Looking out the window

Gizmodo points out that Worldcam is a great way to see inside places that are otherwise restricted and/or difficult to gain access to -- for example, Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, or the set of 60 Minutes in New York City.

@mattpol
60 Minutes
@jan625

You can even check out photos from the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City -- even though you’re not technically supposed to take photos inside the chapel.

Worldcam is not quite a “take-a-glimpse-inside-public-buildings” search engine as it is a “take-a-glimpse-at-what-people-inside-public-buildings­-think-is-Instagram-worthy” search engine.

It’s hardly Google Business Photos, which lets users actually see layouts and interiors of public buildings (like Street View, but for interiors).

@russwhite_
Inside the Googleplex

Instead, you’re as likely to see photos of food, quirky desk toys, and friends as you are to see scenic city views or cool office designs.And unlike Google Business Photos, these photos are all taken with smartphone cameras, which means they’re grainy, lower-resolution, and slapped with Instagram filters.

At the same time, it’s a cool way to explore the world through square-shaped, low-res, oversaturated photos.

Worldcam seems to be the first of its kind: an Instagram-using service that lets people search for specific locations.This is Now is a similar sort of service, except This is Now doesn’t let you search for locations, it just displays a live feed of Instagram photos from multiple (large) cities such as Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Rio de Janeiro.

It’s also a testament to just how much information we’re putting on the Internet. Worldcam only works for photos that have been tagged by location, and, well, there are a lot of photos that have been tagged by location.

Whether it’s a good idea to upload lots of tagged photos (especially if the tag contains more information than you really want to share publicly -- for example, where you live, work, or that you’re not at home…) is up for debate, but one thing is for certain -- services that combine location-based data and other services are certainly fun to explore.

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