Blockies photo graffiti : 4.19.05 : read

by Peter Rojas

We’re beginning to think that there as many cellphone-based location tagging services out there as there are people interested in using them (there’s already Grafedia, Yellow Arrow, Siemens’ mobile post-it notes, Cell Broadcast, etc.), but if you can handle one more variation on the theme, there’s now also a little something called Blockies. Here’s the scoop: you take a photo with your cameraphone, then put up a sticker with a unique ID number. You then email that pic, along with the code, to and they link your photo to that location so that anyone who walks by later can enter the ID number and have your photo automatically delivered to their phone. Limited to New York City (at least for right now), but in case you were wondering, they will send you the stickers for free.


Blockies - More Physical World Meets Digital : 4.19.05 : read

We've seen number of art projects that link or tag physical world locations with digital information, such as Yellow Arrow, Mobile Scout and Grafedia.

Now it seems that it's tipping into the commercial world, with the launch of Blockies, as reported by Regine on the wonderful Near Near Future.

Blockies is a service that allows you to take photos with your camera phone in the street. You then fix a Blockies sticker to the place, upload the pic onto the Blockies site, together with the unique code from the sticker. Future visitors to that location, see the sticker, sms in the code and see the photo you left - or a link to the website if the phone isn't capable of seeing the photo itself.

Actually, future visitors can also attach pics to that location by using your code and thus building up a location-based photo album.

It's "like a message in a bottle..only less wet" which is a great line, if not a very good analogy. But great lines win, in my book.

There's nothing on the site about costs - cost of stickers (though they do say they'll send you them, with no mention of money), cost of sms, or the cost of uploading, storing and downloading pics. But I assume that they intend to charge a small premium for these elements. I've asked and will run a small follow up if I get answers.

I think that services like this, which essentially hyperlink meatspace (or is that such a 1999 expression?) and digital space are going to be very important. Obviously, physical tagging of images is only one aspect, with text, audio and video all being possibilities too.

The only problem I can see the team facing is if they're relying on MMS to deliver images. The cost of the basic service is still prohibitive and then there's the question of whether it works at all.

UPDATE: I've exchanged emails with Melissa, who's running Blockies. She's a student at NYU IPT promgramme and doing Blockies as part of het thesis.

As such, there's no commercial angle, as I surmised, so it's free for users. Having said that, you still have to pay your normal operator charges for sms/mms.

I do think that this has the potential to be extended commercially though.


Polaroids on street corners : 4.19.05 : read

Blockies allow camera phone users to post pictures on any public surface, using special stickers.

See something cool on the street? Take a picture and a Blockies sticker. Each sticker has a unique code on it, so any place you put the sticker gets tagged with that code. Whenever you send pictures to from your cameraphone, you put the code in a message to, and they link your picture to that location.

Other people can see your picture on their phones by texting Blockies the sticker code, or they can add photos to any sticker, making a photo album of that spot, and all pictures are archived on

To retrieve a photo message, just send an SMS to that says "get UNIQUE CODE." Your phone will receive a picture message that someone else left on that sticker, or a link if your phone cannot receive picture messages.

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