Yahoo! Gives Pedals New Power

Rolling with Yahoo! around the world

Yahoo! is known for its mash-ups.  From maps to music sites, the Silicon Valley web pioneer has never been afraid to experiment.

Here's a new one:  Bikes, and cameras.  As in, paint a bike purple (more on that later), strap a cell phone camera to the handlebars, add solar panels to the back for power and send it off. 

Way off.  Like, Tanzania off.

Yahoo's new project is called "Purple Pedal Power."  For those of us who remember Yahoo! back in the old days when they were the only search game in town and David Filo could be found curled up underneath his desk, purple was a pretty big part of its identity. 

It was also known as a company not afraid to try new things that went beyond the company manifesto.  That's why this project is so cool.  Yahoo! is sending bikes all over the place, with little Nokia cameras taking pictures every sixty seconds.  Those pictures are then automatically geo-tagged and uploaded to the company's Flickr photo sharing site.

Besides being a Rube Goldberg-esque way of giving us a peek at the streets of Tanzania (and Toronto, and Vancouver, and Beirut),  this particular biker rally is a window into the environment. 

Just in time for Earth Day, Yahoo is letting anyone with web access see what's going on from the eyes of various activists who find themselves riding the bikes. 

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The Flickr-ed pics of Tanzania are awesome.   Lots of kids, small shops, and trails.  It's easy, and there's really no way to see these particular things, if not given the opportunity to look over the shoulder of the rider.

One of the people I talked to today called the photos "bread crumbs."  I agree.  Every sixty seconds, showing a digital trail of what we probably haven't seen before, thanks to a cool project, some cheap cameras, and a bunch of painted bikes.

Scott Budman offers this link to see more from Tanzania:

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