Hello world, what is a landmark?

Hello world, this is the blog for Gecko SMS.

We just released Gecko SMS for Android in the Android Market, and there was some brief discussion about the concept on Hacker News and on reddit.com. This chance to discuss the idea with people outside our little circle of geo-nerds made me see some weaknesses in our message. This blog is one of our ways to improve on that.

As the first post, I'd like to share our thoughts on what a landmark is. This is a fundamental thing for us, that's what we do: develop and maintain global landmark data and applications that utilize it.

But what does the word landmark really mean?

The Wikipedia-page on landmarks, makes a distinction between American and British English usage of the word: In American English the word is usually "used to designate places that might be of interest to tourists due to notable physical features or historical significance" where as "landmarks in the British English sense are often used for casual navigation, such as giving directions".

Without taking any sides on the language of choice, we definitely go with the latter understanding: landmarks are not just places for tourists. They are anything that can be used to define a location in an widely understandable way, for example schools, shopping malls, buildings, corners of main streets, museums. Anything that helps you locate yourself and everybody locally knows.

Here is an example of a landmark that is highly useful for giving directions in Makati, but definitely not a "must see" for tourists visiting Manila:

McDonald's H.V. dela Costa, Makati, NCR, Philippines
 Coordinates: 14.56070 °N, 121.01790 °E (Google Maps)

(BTW, today they had very cute girl behind the counter, and the 25 PHP Sundae tasted extra good because of that!)

So that is how we define a landmark.

Check back later on this blog for other examples of cool landmarks, and more information about what we are doing with this data.
5 responses
how can i get exact coordinates of specific landmarks? thanks in advance
Any good apps for android to mark my landmarks?
invisibleman1300: At the moment coordinates are not shown via the Gecko SMS application, this is by design -- we think the landmarks provide a more user friendly way to specify a location. But we may add this in a future release.

charger: Are you planning on using the landmarks outside Gecko SMS? You can add your own landmarks to Gecko SMS with a long tap. But currently there is no export functionality - this is something we could definitely add if the users want it. If you want to get your landmarks to a PC, you can use for example Google Maps in Android: star the places, then export them from the PC interface (maps.google.com).

Is this safe for the persons who do not want to be found by everybody eg restraining order cases?
Tanja: Definitely, with Gecko SMS you are sending a standard text message to a single person, so you are not sharing your location with anyone you don't want to.