Where in the World?

I’ve come across another addictive geography game that’s occupied way too much of my time lately, the "Where in the World?" option that’s part of the Picasa website.

Each round includes five sequential photographs. The player has to guess, as closely as possible, the exact spot captured by the image. Photos come from the current daily upload provided by Picasa users as far as I can tell. I’ve seen a couple of images that happened to have the date superimposed upon them so that’s a pretty big clue. In another instance I saw a shot of the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC that explicitly portrayed the cherry blossoms in full bloom, which is exactly what is happening out there as I post this entry. Even my mediocre powers of observation can figure out this mystery.

I got a lot of points on that cherry blossom photo. I was able to nail it down to mere feet. It was essentially this view from East Basin Drive except taken by a pedestrian standing right up to the guardrail, and of course with lots of cherry blossoms in the background



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For that guess I got nine hundred and ninety something points, so I think the theoretical maximum is probably a thousand per photo or five thousand for the a round. I’ve gotten up above three thousand. Someone with a keener thought process and a little luck can probably get higher than that without too much trouble. Maybe someone like you?

Each photograph offers a number of clues which will vary depending on whether it’s an indoor or an outdoor scene. These can include factors such as topography, weather, flora, architecture, signs, demographics, roadways, activities, interior designs, automobiles and just about anything else one can imagine. On most of them I can get close, at least to the correct continent but even that’s not a guarantee. I saw one multicultural family dressed in distinctive garb and guessed that they must have been somewhere in Southeast Asia only to discover that they geo-tagged to a spot about twenty miles from where I live.

Here are a couple of examples from the game with my apologies in advance to the people who took these photographs. I’ve obviously lifted them straight from the website although I believe they fit within the parameters of "fair use" as far as copyrights go. I’ve blanked out the face and promise to remove either photo if their respective authors complain. Go ahead and take a look, and check the answers when you’re ready.


Where in the World?

Things to consider: snow-covered mountains; a broad, flat valley; width of the road; the type of cars; the man’s style of clothing; his stance and physique; buildings in the background and their awnings; stoplights and street light.

The Answer. I guessed within about 500 miles.



Where in the World?

Things to consider: the architecture of the building; its color; shutters; the gate and its scrollwork; and the garden.

The Answer. I got within about 300 miles.

I’ll note that points received depend upon the accuracy of the geolocation, and that’s only as good as the person who recorded the information and uploaded it. I had one instance where I recognized the interior of a building, and could mark a satellite photo at approximately the right spot on the roof above it. However the game thought I was more than a mile off because someone recorded the location as the nearest major road rather than the actual building.

This is a pretty quick game. Photos start to repeat after a few rounds and you’ll need to wait until the next day to get a new batch. That’s probably a good thing. Otherwise I’d never have time to update the Twelve Mile Circle.

You’ve had your practice, now go ahead and try it for real.


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12 Mile Circle:
An Appreciation of Unusual Places
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