Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

A travel database in my photo library

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

Searching for Seattle (vacations).

My family and I are traveling for a few days, visiting my mother in Arizona. My wife and I couldn’t remember how long it had been since the entire family had flown somewhere together.

These days, most questions that nobody around the table can answer can be solved by a quick search of the Internet—”Hey, Siri, how old is Michael Douglas?”—but personal-life trivia remains immune to the powers of Google.

But it turns out that I do carry a database of my travels with me wherever I go: my photo library. Whether you use iCloud Photo Library or Google Photos or Amazon, you’ve got a collection of items tagged with locations (at least the ones taken by devices with GPS data, including all iOS photos) and dates and times. It’s a personal travelogue and searchable database.

So I searched my iCloud Photo Library for Arizona and found the date of our last visit here, and searched around to discover our most recent family trip that involved an airplane. In the course of the conversation, we ended up asking ourselves a lot of those when-what-what questions: What year did we go to Pennsylvania, what year did we go to the Space Shuttle launch, and so on. I was able to answer all of those questions too.

If you’re someone who loves the mystery of unanswered questions and laments the era when a character actor would come on screen and you’d shout “Where have I seen that guy before?” and not ever figure it out, well, I’m sorry to bring you this news. If you’re someone who gets frustrated because you can’t remember if you visited Seattle in 2010 or 2011, or which year you went to Disneyland, remember this: Your photo library may contain all the answers you seek.

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