Rather than try to build up functionality and features to attract a crowd, it seemed that showing information that already exists would be a good way to bootstrap the app. Since I originally envisioned this app as something like Wikipedia for places, but more of an open medium that people can use for any purpose they can put it to, I first thought to look at ways to index Wikipedia entries by their geo location. I quickly found that other folks had already done the indexing and provided an API - geonames.org Pulling this data in was pretty easy, they have a simple HTTP API that returns XML, which geonote.org simply formats into a mobile friendly display. Once there was a web app for sharing notes and viewing 'atlas' pages (the Wikipedia entries), I went in search of other location based APIs and found several great ones.
Here's the list of geo location APIs I've used so far
- GeoNames.org (Wikipedia entries and more) - http://www.geonames.org/export/ws-overview.html
- Flickr.com (Photos) - http://www.flickr.com/services/api/
- Plancast.com (Events) - http://groups.google.com/group/plancast-api/web/overview?pli=1
- Hunch (Recommendations) - http://hunch.com/developers/v1/
- Twitter (chitter chatter) - http://apiwiki.twitter.com/Twitter-API-Documentation
The Plancast crew especially was extremely helpful. Their forum described upcoming support for searching by latitude and longitude, but it had not been released at the time. After posting a comment they were able to build and release that feature in only a few days (on a weekend too!)
One of the most intriguing APIs was the Hunch API for recommendations. Although it has a lot of power, it requires a Twitter username to provide personalized recommendations and the geonote.org app is too simple to try to do real Twitter authentication integration. I'm sure to revisit the Hunch API though.