As Seen On Earth: The Infinite Photograph
A portrait of Earth painted with 300,000 brushes, or why editorial curation and user-generated content can be friends.
By Maria Popova
There’s no question National Geographic is a photographic force to be reckoned with. And now they’re on a mission to inspire people to care about the planet through a gigantic collaborative photo-mosaic of the Earth.
Infinite Photograph is a global project building a portrait of Earth seen through the eyes of ordinary people, a promotional effort for NG’s MyShot initiative. Think of it as crowdsourcing meets collage meets environmental sensibility.
Currently, the mosaic is composed of over 300,000 photos of the natural world, pulled from archived images by MyShot users. But the project is also an ongoing invitation for new submissions — the more images are indexed, the richer the the color sampling will be and the closer to infinity the mosaic can get.
The team at National Geographic envisions various future extensions of the project as the image catalog grows, breaking it down into mosaic representations of sub-categories like water, trees, and animals.
Besides being the socially-smartest marketing effort we’ve seen in a while, we have to respect NG’s fierce editorial curation — even user-submitted images have to live up to the same editorial standards as those in the actual publication in order to make it to MyShot, which ensures all the photographs that do make the cut for Infinite Photograph are absolutely stunning.
But be not discouraged — go ahead and submit some of your own nature-loving shots. It’s not every day you get a chance to feel closer to the planet and to your global cohabitants at the same time.
Published April 17, 2009