The genius of Photosynth is that it takes advantage of the psychosis of digital photography. The software collects similar pictures that, by themselves, aren’t very interesting and builds an entirely new kind of image, what you might call a social photograph. Ordinary photos show you an event as one person captured it. A synth is a scene as seen by everyone.The technology’s potential is brought home by browsing President Obama’s inauguration.
Or by watching this demonstration (skip to 2:34):
Photosynth prompts the same impulse I had when I discovered Google Earth: I thought of all sorts of places I’d been, and tried to go look at them. The Notre Dame cathedral is one of my favorite landmarks, due to a stint living on the Isle San Louis and walking past its facade every morning. Strange how satisfying it is to see stuff I’ve seen before. I wonder whether it’ll be less satisfying to see noteworthy landmarks in person after first seeing them on Photosynth; but I suppose the generation who’ll experience that order won’t be able to tell the difference any better than I can.