Atlasphere is a map-based publishing platform that couples content with place and time. It builds on the idea that every point on the earth has the potential of being a URL. Atlasphere lets contributors illustrate a map with content accessible through map markers, and searchable through combinations of tags, users, time, and location. Users can publish content as simply as they might do with Instagram or Twitter, but can also use authoring tools that let them create rich text and content web pages. Content can include text, images, videos, and other framed web content.
Users can explore Atlasphere in a number of ways. They can pan and zoom over the map to discover markers, they can pull up a list of the displayed markers as a timeline, and they can change what markers are displayed on the map through search features. Users can share views of their current search settings by copying the current URL. They can create their own applications by authoring views that contain only the markers they want to have displayed, where the content behind those markers direct links to other markers.
Authoring map markers is as simple as tapping a location on the map, uploading one or more photos from your phone or device, and adding descriptive text. You can also enter the location manually, or Atlasphere can suggest the location from any sharable location information stored in your photos. You can write rich-text posts using Markdown including extensions that allow for embedding YouTube videos and managing internal links to other map markers.
Atlasphere is a product of Hyperfine Software.
Curated default view: Atlasphere's default view displays a curated list of interesting posts.
The default view broadly shows the map of the world with selected sets of markers. This view encourages browsing and exploration through the map interface, where zooming and panning reveal more content. In this view you can see travel blogs, webcams, videos, and other examples of content. The default view will evolve, eventually supporting personalized views like favorite authors, tags, and locations.
Webcams: A selection of webcam views from around the world.
Atlasphere is great for hosting locations of live webcams, and the Webcams tag reveals a popular set of map markers. A fun subset of webcams is sunset views — western-facing webcams. You can bring up the search dialog, add the Sunsets tag and mark the Require All checkbox to get a collection of map markers that use both the Webcams and Sunsets tags. With this collection displayed, you can spend your day watching sunsets across the world.
"But on your tiny planet, my little prince, all you need do is move your chair a few steps. You can see the day end and the twilight falling whenever you like..."
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
Homeric Greece: A collection of locations pertaining to Homer's writings, as described by Wikipedia.
We put a disparate set of Wikipedia entries onto the map, showing geographic reference for characters and events
described in Homer's writings. Each Wikipedia entry is hosted in an
iFrame in the map marker's details
page. Atlasphere could be a creative tool for students preparing reports on history, literature, scientific discoveries...
Travel Itinerary: Linked posts describing a trip to New Zealand.
A trip to New Zealand starts with a flight into Auckland. Each post leads to the next (and contains a link to the previous) showing off the use of internal links in authoring. This itinerary mixes still images and videos, and shows an Instagram-like use of Atlasphere, but in a way that gives geographic and time context.
San Francisco Crosstown Trail: A New York Times article reimagined as a series of map locations.
A New York Times author walked the San Francisco Crosstown Trail in a day, and documented her journey. When you read her article, divided by subtitles into geographical segments, you can see right away how Atlasphere is a perfect medium for writing about such a journey. This example demonstrates how the monolithic article could be broken up into map markers that give greater context and illustration to the original story.
The collection of map markers also make use of map layer techniques that show the actual path of the Crosstown Trail connecting each map marker. The initial view of this example leads to an introduction that displays the complete trail in its entirety. Zoom in on the map, switching between street and satellite views, to see how detailed the trail path is, down to the dirt path (you can find view switching in the side panel — tap on the Atlasphere logo in the upper left of the application to open it). The use of layers, which can be created in the free Google Earth Pro application, adds an exciting way to illustrate a story in its telling.
Tour of Historical Santa Clara: A printed walking tour brochure becomes an interactive map-based guide.
The Old Quad is an historic neighborhood in the heart of Santa Clara, California, full of homes built in the 1800s. The city sponsors a tour each year and produced a pamphlet describing the homes. Once again, Atlasphere can take an inflexible format and make it interactive, preserving the original content, providing the possibility for ongoing updates, and giving geographical context to each home on the tour. Again, map layering is used to highlight the neighborhood and to provide context for an introduction to the individual homes on the tour.
If you bring up the search dialog on this view, you can see that this view uses two panels — Tags and Users. Under tags, the view uses Tour of Historical Santa Clara. The search specification is further limited by the selection of of the user, CityOfSantaClara. Why?
Atlasphere tags are open-ended. They can be any string a creator wants, and can have literal meaning or not. In this example, the tag, Tour of Historical Santa Clara, makes obvious sense. But it doesn't mean another user can't use the same tag, which would result in additional markers being displayed on the map beyond what the CityOfSantaClara user wants to show off to its users. By specifying both the tag and the user in the search specification, an author can describe a view that contains only the content they created, preserving the entire map for their particular use.
The view that the user, CityOfSantaClara, wants to show to its users is packaged as a URL. The distribution of views is just the sharing of a web page. That is how all the views on this page are shared.
Lonesome Dove: Linked markers tracing out the scenes of the novel, Lonesome Dove
This collection of map markers highlights locations where actions take place in the story. The collection makes use of an organizing layer for its introduction marker, drawing attention to the states hosting story locations. Notice how the highlighted states draw the eye to the more detailed layout of the markers, both suggesting the progression of the storyline revolving around the cattle drive trail from Texas to Montana. The introductory marker, tied to the states layer, makes for a landing point for readers who receive the collection URL and an explanatory overview of the remaining map markers in the collection.
The Lonesome Dove example also shows how an author can engage readers, in this case challenging them to find more likely exact locations for the scenes in the book, given that the account is fictional but containing hints about geography in the details of the narrative.
As with all collections/views, the reader can browse through the list of map markers in an index view by dragging the drawer panel handle upward from the bottom of the screen. You can scroll through the list in reverse chronological order and tap on an item to select the corresponding map marker.
Satellite View: Vacation blog over a set of markers in satellite view.
This is another example of linked map markers, but here the URL sharing the collection is encoded to open the view in satellite mode. The creator of this view carefully positioned it for maximal impact — the overhead view of the resort as an oasis scene in the midst of the desert tip of Baja California against the sea shore.
When the view URL is copied into a social media post such as Twitter or a messaging app like WhatsApp, the result will display the Atlasphere marker's snippet image, giving an enticing invitation to click on the link and visit the post.
Embed YouTube Videos: Give new life and discoverability to YouTube videos.
Many YouTube videos contain or describe geographical context. Since authors can easily embed YouTube videos as the content for Atlasphere map marker posts, location becomes a means for rediscovering YouTube content. Atlasphere makes discoverability possible for existing YouTube videos both through the use of its tag system and users casualling browsing the map. In this example, a video on Yosemite National Park is presented with a marker highlighted against the national park's boundaries.
Further, YouTube video creators can enhance their videos with embedded URLs that point to Atlasphere markers to further illustrate and enhance their video content.
Contests and Games: Take over the map for thematic geographical content.
Andrew Sullivan (@SullyDish) publishes The Weekly Dish where he and Chris Bodenner also present a contest where their readers try to discover the location of a photo taken framed by a window. Atlasphere publishes their weekly results, the map filling up over time under the "View From Your Window" tag, with The Weekly Dish branding and links bringing readers back to their publication.
You can envision other sorts of games and entertainment where Atlasphere search criteria across tags, users, proximity, and time ranges, along with internal links and other authoring tools can be used to construct games of discoverability and learning.
Embed Twitter: Revive Tweets for ongoing relevance.
You can embed links to Atlasphere in Tweets to point to geographically relevant content, and you can also embed Tweets in Atlasphere content. When you embed a Tweet, you enable a new level of discoverability and relevance for a Tweet that might otherwise sink into timeline obscurity on Twitter. Content browsing through the Atlasphere map breathes new life into older content.
In this example, @CALFIRECZU, a branch of California's Cal Fire agency, posted a video on Twitter as they fought the August, 2020 wildfires in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The video showed one of their helicopters picking up water for a drop on the fire, but they didn't specify where. We reposted the Tweet on Atlasphere showing exactly where the pickup took place — in the middle of Loch Lomond.
Stairway to Heaven: Two performances, separated by place and time.
Regional Restaurants: A collection of markers sharing the "Restaurants" tag.
Indian Premier League: The Indian Premier League cricket teams and their home fields.
Hyperfine Blog: A Weekend of California Fire Reporting Through Atlasphere