Saturday, July 9, 2011

Billion Graves

Billion Graves is a relatively new web site which attempts to photograph tombstones and locate them on a cemetery map using GPS codes. This is a great idea. They also plan to transcribe the stones, either by the photographer transcribing or by a volunteer coming along later and transcribing stones from photos online.

Billion Graves support told me the GPS is so "other people can know the distance they are from the cemetery." I tend to think it is more useful to locate the stone once you find the cemetery except in the case of a stone photographed in a hidden cemetery. What are the chances of that happening often?

To submit a photo you download an app to your iPhone or to your Android, snap the photo and upload it. It's that simple. You could do a whole cemetery in an afternoon in many cases. The app is $1.99 and, obviously, uses your device's camera. You can set it upload after each snap or later. You can chose to save the picture after upload or delete it. Why would would you delete it?

Don't have an iPhone or Android? You will not be snapping pictures. End of story. But you can still transcribe those others have snapped and not transcribed. Note that according to the software, an iPad or a new generation iPod will not work because only an iPhone has GPS accurate enough for this program. Thus only a select group may participate. 

You can use an iPad connected to the internet to tell you of cemeteries nearby where you are at this moment. And maybe that is what they are getting at in paragraph two above. "It sure is a nice day here in this county we are driving through. Let's see if there are any cemeteries nearby to photograph." I'm guessing that feature won't get a lot of use. 

It totally eliminates all stone photos taken before the program. This eliminates the ability of certain folks to collect photos from various places and post them as their own. But it also eliminates a lot of available photos. And it eliminates the photos I and others took years ago of stones which may no longer be readable or which may now be broken, seriously damaged or gone.

I think this is a good idea but it is not ready for prime time.

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