“What is a shapefile?” you may ask. Its a file containing shapes mathematically generated by the thousands of Flickr geotagged photos of particular neighborhoods, countries, and continents. The data can also be seen as reverse-engineered fuzzy maps created by user generated longitude and latitude coordinates that are then demarcated by Where-On-Earth IDs.
Still confused? Its 549mb of uncompressed XML public domain geo-glory. Aaron from the Flickr Development team explains their rationale for using CC Zero:
- We want people (developers, researchers and anyone else who wants to play) to find new and interesting ways to use the shapefiles and we recognize that, in many cases, this means having access to the entire dataset.
- We want people to feel both comfortable and confident using this data in their projects and so we opted for a public domain [waiver] so no one would have to spend their time wondering about the issue of licensing. We also think the work that the Creative Commons crew is doing is valuable and important and so we chose to release the shapefiles under the CC0 waiver as a show of support.
- We want people to create their own shapefiles and to share them so that other people (including us!) can find interesting ways to use them. We’re pretty sure there’s something to this “shapefile stuff” even if we can’t always put our finger on it so if publishing the dataset will encourage others to do the same then we’re happy to do so.