Historypin is an app and site that overlays vintage photos, audio, and video onto current Google Maps Street View images. For example, above is the March of the 100 Bagpipers on a Nova Scotia road in 1955, and today. Below, George VI's 1937 coronation in London. Smithsonian interviewed Nick Stanhope, CEO of We Are What We Do, creators of Historypin:
How do you see it being a useful tool?"Q and A with Nick Stanhope, Creator of Historypin"
Our organization as a whole spends a lot of time thinking and talking about this concept of social capital—the associations, networks and trust that define strong communities. What Robert Putnam has done, and other sociologists like him, is trace the disintegration of this social capital. I think it is a huge trend, and not something that Historypin can solve by any stretch of the imagination. But we think that by boosting the interest in local heritage and by making it exciting and relevant to people, by starting conversations—across garden fences, families, different generations and cultural groups—about heritage, we can play a role.
We talk a lot about there being a difference between “bonding” social capital and “bridging” social capital—bonding being between similar social, economic or cultural groups and bridging being across different groups. Something like Facebook is great for the social capital between people that know each other and have a connection, but it doesn’t make links beyond that. We have a very long way to go, but the aim of Historypin is to start conversations about something that is shared between people who didn’t necessarily think that they had something in common.
David Pescovitz is Boing Boing's co-editor/managing partner. He's also a research director at Institute for the Future. On Instagram, he's @pesco.