Have you ever been on Instagram and said to yourself, "I'd like to see some photos from Fiji", or some other beautiful place? Seems like a reasonable request.
Technology has proven itself magical enough to let you virtually immerse yourself in all kinds of experiences. Of course, beautiful imagery is a YouTube/Google search away. But it's missing the realtime element that makes you feel connected to other people's experiences.
Until Instagram's most recent update, you could search locations by hashtag (#Fiji), but inevitably find a million unrelated things. Thanks to hashtag abuse, many of the images were either spam or photos of Fiji water bottles.
The update, implemented on June 23, 2015, gave the Explore tab a complete overhaul. Features include:
Like Twitter and Tumblr, you can see which hashtags are trending, which is great for those who aren't seeped in every meme or current event. It's a form of curation that has been missing for too long.
Not only is there a spotlight on relevant topics, but places and events as well. The culling of images and video for current events is very Snapchat-esque. You're able to see popular locations and landmarks (local as well as national). You can see what the L.A. locals are up to, catch every costume at ComicCon, and view how other people live in general.
Curation is one of my favorite words. It breaks through the noise and brings organization to chaos. In this section, Instagram chooses a topic and brings the most beautiful photos related to that topic (categorized by location of course). Current examples include Towering Rocks and Extreme Athletes (see above). These currated collections are akin to some of the vibrant travel photography on Tumblr.
Which brings us back to Fiji. Only this time, the results are way more relevant. Instagram users have been adding photos to their maps for years, but none of it was searchable. Until now.
Whether or not you have virtual wanderlust, this feature is definitely worth exploring.
Social media is great, but we're often insulated by what/who we already know. This feature opens up opportunities for discovery and an incentive to leave our timelines.