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FiveThirtyEight

Thousands of people have contributed to the quixotic data-collection project of Geograph Britain and Ireland, snapping photos of nearly every square kilometer. FiveThirtyEight interviewed about a dozen of these collectors about their work:

Broadley Terrace, near to Marylebone, Westminster, Great Britain.

Broadley Terrace,
near to Marylebone, Westminster, Great Britain. Copyright Robin Stott and licensed under CC-BY-SA.

Robin Stott, 70
Chairman, Geograph Project Ltd. Co.
Warwick, retired landscape architect

“It satisfies a sense of curiosity: the human urge to explore and poke one’s nose in; it brings discoveries. We all learn a lot about our own patch or subject from our own research and from each other. What’s important is coverage, coverage, coverage: the ‘burbs; backstreets; blanket bog; southern Ireland all need attention.”

Overlooking Cwm Bowydd, near to Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, Great Britain. Copyright Barry Hunter and licensed under CC-BY-SA.

Barry Hunter, 35
Co-Founder, Geograph
West Sussex, Web developer

“Attention is turning to “depth” and comprehensiveness of the archive, turning it more into a long-term documentary of the changing countryside, rather than an out-an-out game.”

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Footpath across Middle Fen near to Over, Cambridgeshire, Great Britain. Copyright Hugh Venables and licensed under CC-BY-SA.

Hugh Venables
“It provides a sense of structure and achievement during and after a long walk or bike ride, by contributing to a project in a way that is replicated by enough other people to create a coherent and archived (with British Library) result that is far bigger than anyone could create on their own.”

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Degraded Lammermuir near to Hare Cleugh [other Features], East Lothian, Great Britain. Copyright Richard Webb and licensed under CC-BY-SA.

Richard Webb, 50
Cockenzie, teacher

“I was very anxious to get a record of the Lammermuir Hills near where I live before the wind farms — so as to be reminded of what we have lost. I just wish the project was going in the 1920s!”

Bury Farm, Wallington near to Wallington, Hertfordshire, Great Britain

Bury Farm, Wallington near to Wallington, Hertfordshire, Great Britain. Copyright Paul Dixon and licensed under CC-BY-SA.

Paul Dixon, 43
Hertfordshire, chief technology officer for an electronic publisher

“I’m immensely proud of the project and what it has achieved — even if it stopped today, there’s a super snapshot of nearly a decade of British Isles geography. It recently hit 4 million photographs, which is beyond our wildest dreams when we started the project!”

Camborne Railway Station near to Camborne, Cornwall, Great Britain

Camborne Railway Station near to Camborne, Cornwall, Great Britain. Copyright Ashley Dace and licensed under CC-BY-SA.

Ashley Dace, 23
Nottingham, mining geology student

“Uploading to Geograph completes the day, allowing me to reflect on what I have seen. I also like the archive being built in one place. I can see it being very useful in years to come.”

Eilean Ban from the Skye bridge near to Kyleakin/Caol Acain, Highland, Great Britain

Eilean Ban from the Skye bridge near to Kyleakin/Caol Acain, Highland, Great Britain. Copyright Andrew Hill and licensed under CC-BY-SA.

Andrew Hill, 49
Bolsover, former bookseller

“It is a source of happiness and fulfillment to be a small part of an enjoyable hobby which is also a useful project on a national scale.”

Chancel and altar, St. Mary's near to English Bicknor, Gloucestershire, Great Britain

View from a pew, near to Hope Mansell, Herefordshire, Great Britain. Copyright Pauline E and licensed under CC-BY-SA.

Copyright Pauline E and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Pauline E., 60+
North Yorkshire, retired teacher

“Feedback from people around the world is particularly rewarding, whether it’s a simple thank you from those who have been looking at pictures from towns they grew up in, or requests to check out a grave for someone researching their family history, I’m always pleased to hear from them. I was once asked to photograph an altar in a local church — someone wanted to see the very spot where their ancestors married.”

Laying the bricks near to Cholsey, Oxfordshire, Great Britain

Laying bricks near to Cholsey, Oxfordshire, Great Britain. Copyright Bill Nicholls and licensed under CC-BY-SA.

Bill Nicholls, 62
Oxfordshire, vacuum technician

“People make photos. It shows what life was like at the time and the activities that we get up to. It’s one thing showing a built building or a field that had been ploughed but you also need to show how it was done. The bricklayer laying the bricks or carpenter cutting the timber. The famer working on the ploughed field. It’s life. It needs to be recorded.”

Dead tree and barn, South Lodge Farm, Enfield near to Cockfosters, Enfield, Great Britain

Dead tree and barn, South Lodge Farm, Enfield near to Cockfosters, Enfield, Great Britain. Copyright Christine Matthews and licensed under CC-BY-SA.

Christine Matthews, 65
London, retired secretary

“I find it interesting to look at changes that have taken place which I probably wouldn’t have noticed if it hadn’t been for Geograph. Now if I see a house for sale for development or a building about to be demolished I try to photograph it before it is too late.”

Gloucester docks near to Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Great Britain

Gloucester docks near to Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Great Britain. Copyright John Winder and licensed under CC-BY-SA.

John Winder, 42
Ross on Wye, night-shift manager at haulage company

“I’ve uploaded a good many of my old film photos. Many of them were taken back in the early 1990s and I’m as surprised as anyone to discover that they’ve now got some historical value since most of these places have now been redeveloped out of all recognition.”

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