Three sites that tell stories with places
At the Where 2.0 conference, execs from three companies in a row got up and presented their view of the next consumer publishing phenom (or so they hope): geo-focused consumer content. Each of these companies has launched a site that collects stories associated with peoples' relationships to places.
Platial is a "user-created atlas," in the words of co-founder Di-Ann Eisnor. Users can create maps showing their adventures through cities, their favorite travel spots, and so on. One popular user-created map is a trail of tears: Stories of longing, missed connections, and tragic break-ups attached to particular locations. Eisnor calls the personal collections, "autobiogeographies." The most popular item, though, is a collection of places related to the TV show "Lost" (although the location of the Lost island is fictional, there are numerous back-stories attached to real locations; the collection also tracks filming locations).
A cool new feature on Platial is location-based aggregation: On a single page related to a city, Platial shows its own user-demarked locations, plus events, videos, and photos (from Eventful, YouTube, and Flickr, respectively) that have been tagged with the location. It's a mini gazette of any chosen location, and you can subscribe to it in RSS or view the items overlayed onto Google Earth.
43 Places, presented by Josh Peterson, is a site that collects the travel dreams of its users. Its major function is to let users say "I want to go to X," and find others who've already been there, and what they have to say about, or recommend at the location. This site has very good focus. It should really partner with Triporama.
Finally, there's Wayfaring, co-founded by CNET general manager Mike Tatum. It's competitive to both of the above sites. (I can't evaluate it any further due our policy against reviewing products CNET has an interest in.)
Are people ready for yet another type of site where they tell stories? Aren't MySpace, YouTube, Blogger -- and all their competitors -- enough? Although I think the general public is still digesting blogs and the MySpace phenomenon and isn't quite ready to jump into these geo-story sites, this concept makes sense. New and different types of story sites can succeed, because there a many different ways to tell stories.