Portland, Oregon is known for many things but one of them is its availability of public data. When the local government included listings of 429 pieces of public art in the data it made available to independent developers, Matt Blair took the logical and admirable step of turning that data into an iPhone app. The Portland Public Art Finder makes it easy to discover and learn about murals, sculptures, installations and other instances of art that you can go and enjoy in public.
It's a great way to learn about those works of art you might see regularly but never know the story behind, or to discover new gems in your or a new neighborhood. Blair told Mike Rogoway of the Portland Oregonian, who wrote about the app first, that he had no idea how much art was around town before seeing the data made available. Talk about augmented reality! What city wouldn't benefit from apps like this?
The app makes it easy for users to submit suggestions for new listings to be included and Blair says he'll be adding more over the coming months. While the map makes class and race differences all the more evident, it's great to learn about the few murals where I live and I look forward to using this app on a walking tour downtown soon.
It's not hard to imagine integration of check-in apps, Wikipedia links, public commenting and shared discussion of works of art, their meaning and history. So much is made possible when geocoded data becomes programmatically available.