The Meaningful Location Project
The Meaningful Location Project, or MeLo, is a platform that explores the collection, annotation, analysis, display and sharing of location histories. Through MeLo, users can annotate their location histories with words and concepts that are personally meaningful to them. A single place, for instance, can be Peet's Coffee to most people, but it could also be "fave coffee shop" for one, or "coffee shop where I get work done" for another. Because MeLo is a platform, different applications can be built on top of it, using these meaningful categories of location, in order to deliver relevant services to the user.
In particular, the platform can be used by end-users to track and explore their own location histories overlaid with their own interpretations of location. While seeing where you've been in the past month geographically is interesting, we feel that a higher level of aggregation, such as what you have been doing or what kind of places you have visited, gives the user additional insight.
MeLo also lets users share their location data in ways that preserve complex notions of privacy. Personal categories of place are a separate dimension from hierarchies of geographic locations that users can use to expose their current location to contacts and friends. Imagine sharing "I am at home" or "I'm studying at the coffee shop" instead of "I am in Berkeley, California" or "I am at the intersection of College Ave and Derby St." Meaningful, personal descriptions can simultaneously be more useful to your contacts and less revealing to others.
Data in the system is exposed through a REST API that developers can use to offer additional services to users. Tools built using the API can make use of individuals' abstract conceptions of place and also provide additional views and analysis of the data.