In the days before email and smartphones, postcards were an amazing way of sending a pictorial message to someone. It showed the recipient when that sender was seeing, along with a note at the back describing what that was or their feelings at the time. It was personal.
Smartphones changed that to a large extent with their cameras and internet connectivity, making the modern ‘e-postcard’ much faster. And now, Findery is taking it to the next step of the postcard’s evolution. It’s no longer about you sending a postcard to a friend, it’s about sharing it with the world and pinpointing it on a map for anyone to find.
That’s right, Findery lets you leave notes for the world.
The idea behind Findery is endearing with its simplicity. Suppose you come across a cool sight. All you have to do is click a picture and upload it. Write a note while you are at it and voila, it’s a postcard left on a map for the world to see.
Findery works with both smartphones as well as desktop web browsers, so in case you use a good DSLR camera, you don’t have to still take photos with your phone.
The one advantage of using a phone is that it lets you pinpoint the GPS coordinates, automatically sticking your note on the map.
When uploading through a desktop browser, things are a lot more difficult. I had a really hard time being able to pin my note on the exact spot I took the photo because I didn’t have the GPS coordinates (my camera doesn’t have geo-tagging). In such cases, Findery makes you type out the address and choose from a list of pre-entered places, but pinpointing your own is just not possible, in my experience. If it is, then it’s way too complicated to be of any use.
A Cluttered Interface
In fact, that is a complaint about Findery that I found prevalent everywhere. While the premise is quite cool and there are some great people using the site to make the data worthwhile, Findery’s interface is just too cluttered to make it feel inviting.
For starters, the map in the homepage is a widescreen crop with the Findery logo going over it, as well as the most recent featured note. I have no idea why the two couldn’t be kept separate. Right now, when I try to pan-and-scan the map, I end up clicking the logo or the note half of the time, and the other half, they cover some important data. It’s incredibly annoying.
The only consolation in the interface is the sidebar of updates, which shows you the latest posts on Findery, posts from people you’re following and post from you.
But the main task of browsing through a map to find a cool note is made troublesome on the home page and you have to rely on the ‘Big Map’ option to really get the best out of Findery.
Finding Notes On The Map
The Big Map interface is actually where Findery gets the most fun. It could very well be called a different type of tourism, because that’s what it ended up being for me, travelling from one famous locale in the world to another and checking out the photos people have uploaded, along with reading the story.
Most of the big cities around the world have a fair bit of information pinned on their maps, so it’s a cool way of doing some virtual sight-seeing. And these are the things you probably won’t see on the usual tourist guide maps, because I found that Findery seems more used by locals than by visitors.
In general, there are some areas where you will find a cluster of photos, while other areas remain sparsely populated. For example, Alcatraz in San Francisco is packed with pictures and tales, and it’s lovely to read through them all. It isn’t always about the place either, as some stories are more personal – but it’s still a fantastic way of e-travelling as it gives you insights into places from locals that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
But again, in the Big Map, you are forced to navigate away every time you want to read a note. Sure, clicking the pin gives you an expanded pin with a little more detail, but the full post needs to be read on the same, stripped-down widescreen map interface like the homepage. It’s almost like Findery wants to make it more difficult for you to find the notes people are leaving!
Crowd Sourcing Info
What I also loved about Findery is that it tries very hard to build a community. The users on Findery are genuinely helpful and engaging, making it more fun to be a part of it.
One incident the site has highlighted on its home page right now is of a user, Oscar Falcon, who found an old photo of his grandfather standing outside some shop. He posted it on Findery to try and get people to pinpoint where the picture was taken. In a short time, he had the answer and now it’s pinned at the exact spot.
With such sites, I have always found that the community becomes why you end up going back again and again, rather than the data available. In the end, it’s a glorified forum, and you only visit those forums which have the kind of people you want to interact with.
If it weren’t for the cluttered and unintuitive interface of Findery, it would have definitely scored a lot higher in my review. But I simply cannot get over how hard it is to navigate through the website, and the number of times it makes me go back and forth between pages.
Still, the lovely community and a chance to travel the world through the eyes of locals, all from the comfort of my chair, is hard to resist.
Findery modernizes the postcard and pins it onto maps, making it easy for the world to find the notes you leave behind7
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