Microsoft has teamed up with the University of Washington on a project that uses the nearly limitless cache of photos on Flickr and arranges them algorithmically into an explorable three-dimensional view. They call it Photosynth and it is absolutely amazing.
This may seem out of place in the first post of blog that is, at least in part, devoted to history but what you are looking at is the future of art history education. I first learned of this technology in a TED talk sometime ago and I immediately fantasized about presenting students great works of architecture by floating through them and allowing pupils to virtually crane their necks at the ceiling of the Parthenon and explore the nooks and crannies of Falingwater. Since that demonstration it appears the technology has only gotten better.
Historic Preservationists should be excited too! This would be an awesome supplement to standard photographic documentation. Putting together all of the pictures ever taken of a building would not only allow you to travel through its place in space, but time as well. You could watch its surroundings change and get a sense of its use and place in a community all while immersed within it.
Even better, the technology was created as a way to organize and contextually understand large quantities of photos, one of the biggest pain the @!%& things about studying and documenting architecture.
Those of you with who use Windows are invited to try it. If anyone reads this and does I would love to hear about your experience. Sadly (in this case only), I have a Mac.