When Fotonauts debuted at last year’s TechCrunch50, I called it a “gorgeous photopedia” because it promised to turn your photo albums into collaborative Web pages about different topics and subjects. Fotonauts is a desktop photo client which helps you tag, organize, and share your photos in a live feed, and is still in private beta. But you can see a glimpse of what the Web-facing version will look like at Fotopedia, which just soft-launched. A message at the top of the page states: “Fotopedia, a sneak peek. This site is an in-progress read-only preview of what we are going to launch in a few days.”
One of the features of Fotonauts which has yet to be turned on is the ability to turn any photo album into a Web page, complete with tags, associated Wikipedia entry, and Google map information where available. Fotopedia showcases some of the same public albums you can see in the Fotonauts client, plus it adds a few twists. Each photo can be voted up or down or flagged as inappropriate. There is an Encyclopedia tab, which shows albums by topic/tag. For instance, you can see albums about Volcanos, butterflies, or Venice.
There are nearly 150,000 high-quality photos already, organized into 4,289 “articles.” Each article is a Web slide show, along with the associated Wikipedia entry and Google Map. Each photo contains a lot of metadata making it search-engine friendly. Fotopedia is supposed to be a cross between Flickr and Wikipedia, an= long-lasting archive of “images for humanity.” Fotonauts founder Jean-Marie Hullot explains in a note: “Flickr and other photo sites give you exposure for only a brief window in time, and adding photos to Wikipedia proved too complicated for the average user.”
In addition to the photos, there is also an active community. You can follow other people or follow specific albums. You can also see individual profiles when you are logged in. You can also share albums as widgets. (I’ve included ones for Volcano and butterfly albums below).