While developing a trip-planning support app called Tripovore, Paris-based designer and developer Benjamin Netter (winner of 2011's Foursquare Hackathon) discovered that "pictures from Instagram give you a much better taste of travel locations than any professional photographers could give you. These photos are, most of the time, more realistic representations of the beauty of a place." Putting Tripovore on hold, Netter began focusing his attention on Somewhere, a web-based application that allows you to adventure from location to location at random, supported by Instagram photographs, Foursquare geo-location and an accompanying Wikipedia article. The resulting app is beautiful, inspiring and informative.
"I thought that it would be great to see shots that random people are taking of amazing places all around the world," Netter tells CH regarding the app's inception. He began crawling across the internet to find places he would like to visit, "whether it’s an abandoned city, a desert, nature’s imperfection, a beautiful museum or a strange bar." From there, he added names to a database and developed a script that pulled 150 images off of Instagram. The script initially sorted the images by likes, but he found that this wasn't always the most relevant reflection of an image's quality. He also coded for facial recognition—so no selfies make the cut. To round out the service, he pulled in the first paragraph of each location's Wikipedia page. Presented with ease and clarity, an image, a location and information—all with the ability to click through for more—define the backbone of Somewhere. And if the location or image doesn't appeal to you, one click takes you to the next randomly generated escapade.
"I thought this would be a great way to motivate me and others to travel more to exotic places for 2014. From what I read, 65% of travelers are finding inspiration for their next trip on the web," says Netter. Spending five minutes on Somewhere all but proves this to be true, at times activating wanderlust while also satisfying the need to see and explore by way of breathtaking imagery flowing through the social web. Netter also envisions many more Instagram hacks. "I think there’s still a lot to do with the Instagram database. For example, I’m also using it to know how popular a place is by calculating how many pictures were taken during the last week." Furthering this he states, "There’s literally thousands of ways to use it, and I think we’ll see a lot more hacks of it this year. And I still think there’s a great way to use this (and Foursquare) to travel better and make better city guides." For Netter, Somewhere is more of an experiment that went well; for others, it's likely to be the stimulus for their next vacation.
Images courtesy of SMWH.RE