Location, postal style

While search engine companies struggle to provide effective geographical search methods, the BBC news service points to a simple and effective trick for identifying sites around you: search for your postal code.

In this case, I used my postcode as the only search criteria, ensuring that the whole thing was in quote marks. A full postcode will typically cover 15 addresses but on occasion it will extend to include the whole side of a road. What tends to come up on the web? Well, if you live above or near to a promenade of shops, expect links or references to them to dominate. However, on purely residential roads, the results prove to be more varied and unexpected.

In America, the results tend to be less significant. Using only the 5 digit zip code, there tends to be a lot of noise from the fact that many other things tend to share the first 100,000 integers on the web. Extending the zip code to include the 4 digit extension specifies the search enough, but given that the extension is optional, misses lots of results.

Since the extra 4 is geographically based, I subtracted and added within a range of 20 for my home address and received quite a few results, but since Google and other search engines do not support regular expressions or partial search queries, this is a painstaking process.

BBC: Web reveals hidden lives

Google: Sites around the Media Lab

2 thoughts on “Location, postal style

  1. it would be great if HTML authoring tools put this sort of thing in automatically. the results that i’m getting are pretty sporadic.. not one “cameron” found in the entire united states!

    oh well. i guess i’m not that popular in the geotag community.

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