Caterina Fake's Findery launches to be your living atlas

The celebrated entrepreneur is trying to make the world more human one place at a time.

findery iphone
Screenshot/Jennifer Van Grove/CNET

Caterina Fake wants to make the places around you come alive, and she needs your help to do it.

Co-founder of the once-beloved photo site Flickr and the archetype of the female geek, Fake hopes to prove that she can once again make technology more human -- less about me and more about we. This time around, she's using an app called Findery to put the world's greatest stories in the palm of your hand.

Findery for iPhone, which arrives on the App Store on Thursday, centers around world exploration, with a map for attaching notes in the form of text, photos, videos, and audio files to places, and traveling through the archives of place-based thoughts and adventures left by others. Your notes are whatever you want them to be -- memories, stories, or facts with historical context -- but Fake hopes you'll use them as little treasures that other people can uncover.

The app is arriving 16 months after the October 2012 launch of Findery's Web site and represents the birth of an overgrown baby of an idea that has been germinating in some form for years. Findery initially started its life as Pinwheel more than two years ago. "Populating the world with notes is actually a really large and difficult project," Fake told CNET.

In waiting an uncommonly long time to put her location-based app on a smartphone, where it naturally belongs, Fake believes she's solved the chicken-and-egg problem. "We've been taking our time; it's been a very deliberate journey," Fake said. "It's like being 10 months pregnant."

findery iphone notemap
Screenshot/Jennifer Van Grove/CNET

What that means is that, on day one, you should be able to open the app and find a wealth of content waiting for you to peruse, whether that be in your own backyard or somewhere else in the world. The discover tab, where you'll land first, does its best to surface the best of both worlds with curated note collections called "notemaps," or you can dive into the map to read notes on any location of interest.

Findery's existing members are a diverse bunch, and there's already a strong contingency of travelers, Fake said, which means a wide variety of notes in unexpected places such as Vilnius, Lithuania; Sofia, Bulgaria; or Istanbul, Turkey.

While compelling, the app could easily get lost among the collection of existing travel apps. Findery also is not the first app to play with geo-tagged notes, a concept that doesn't appear to have garnered mainstream appeal just yet.

But for now Findery's focus, said Fake, will be on building out the community and eventually releasing a native Android application. The startup has raised $9.5 million in funding from Redpoint Ventures, True Ventures, Betaworks, and additional angel investors.

 

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