Over the summer, Jon Hays and I started working on a new project to build a places database that can power location check-in apps. It’s based on OpenStreetMap, but focused just on places. We call it Meridian, and it has the amazing domain name latl.ong.
For years I’ve been using Foursquare to check into places like coffee shops, restaurants, and landmarks. I love having a record of places while traveling, and I’ve published many of them to a special blog. I just don’t like depending on a single company for this data.
Meridian is open source and separate from Micro.blog, but it will form the foundation for location check-in features in our apps like Sunlit and Micro.blog. You can see a little of what we have planned for Sunlit in these screenshots:
Why build something new like this? There seemed to be a missing platform for small location apps. Foursquare is increasingly interested in business customers. Google is full of ads. OpenStreetMap is a great start, but also has quite a learning curve. If all you want is nearby places, it’s too much work to bring along all the overhead of a full mapping API.
The architecture of Meridian will allow other platforms like Micro.blog to host their own copy of the data, feeding back into Meridian and OpenStreetMap. The goal is to design something as distributed as possible, where multiple people using different apps can add new places to grow the database, while still having an API that is simple to use. We’ll iterate on it slowly but there are already some pieces in place to start experimenting with. Should be fun!
✴️ Also on Micro.blog