Besides being the coolest thing I’ve seen on the internet in a long time, this sweet little video blows wide open the potential that collective networks have to leverage the shared assets of the online community to create something spectacular. Here, Blaise Aguera y Arcas demos Photosynth, a photo-mapping software unlike anything you’ve ever seen. By linking the common elements of images taken from a photo-sharing site such as Flickr, Photosynth builds 3-D interactive models of those photos’ subjects. Frame by frame, merging thousands of individuals’ photos, it recreates landscapes, buildings”potentially whole worlds. The result, says Aguera y Arcas, is a “metaverse,” an incredibly detailed representation of every interesting place on earth.
Photosynth leverages shared photography, but what’s really exciting is how designing around such network effects has the power to change far more than digital mapping. It’s already reshaping philanthropy: organizations like Kiva.org leverage the online community to offer micro-finance loans to individuals in developing nations. The potential is obvious: if a snapshot from your phone can create a cathedral, imagine what a ten spot can do.