Google My Maps: Map Mashups for All

John Musser
Apr. 06 2007, 12:30AM EDT

The maps mashup landscape changed forever yesterday with Google's announcement of My Maps, a new service which allows non-programmers to easily create maps mashups. With tens of thousands of maps mashups out there already this of course quickly lead to a tremendous increase. And while some of the basic features have been previously available from Microsoft's Virtual Earth and Ask.com, Google's leadership in the space made it the buzz of the blogosphere. In terms of functionality, My Maps offers a good UI for users to place markers, draw shapes and add descriptions. Nice features like the ability to add notes and associate media like photos, audio clips and videos make the service more than just marker placement. You can share maps as either public or private. Each map will get its own unique URL but also it's own KML file. And it's this last part that's very interesting -- as O'Reilly's Brady Forrest points out "They are adding all geo-indexed web pages to their local search ... A web page is geo-indexed via an associated KML file. All publicly shared MyMaps will be in the index. No other search engine does this." And as noted by many this presents a challenge for personal and social geo-centric startups like VC-funded Platial, or smaller Frapper and Wayfaring. Some blame building on the API as the key risk, although the basic challenges they face today would exist if they were built on another vendor's maps or some licensed map service they hosted themselves. Going forward one of the things that will separate the API-driven maps from the millions of My Maps mashups will be the sophistication of integration, degree of dynamic data, and use in higher-value applications. Even true for just some of the fun mashups like the recent flurry of quasi-realtime twitter maps that would still rely on the API. The maps mashup battle has certainly been taken to the next level and this demonstrates what a difference tools can make when a platform technology is moved from solely a developer-centric API realm into a true mass-market. Below is the first example listed here from My Maps, the Oral Histories of Route 66 Map.

John Musser

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<strong>Google Launches&nbsp;MyMaps</strong>

Google recently launched a service called &#8220;MyMaps&#8221; which allows you to easily create map mashups (provided that you have a Google account).
&#8220;Users are able to create their own maps and mark them public or private. The annotation tools...

[...] Sergio Gandrus wrote an interesting post today onHere&#8217;s a quick excerptGoogle Maps The maps mashup landscape changed forever yesterday with Google’s announcement of My Maps, a new service which allows non-programmers to easily create maps mashups. With tens of thousands of maps mashups out there already &#8230; [...]

[...] Sergio Gandrus wrote an interesting post today onHere&#8217;s a quick excerptGoogle Maps The maps mashup landscape changed forever yesterday with Google’s announcement of My Maps, a new service which allows non-programmers to easily create maps mashups. With tens of thousands of maps mashups out there already &#8230; [...]

I think it's important for companies like Platial, Frapper and others to be different.

Google made it very easy to create your own maps, but there's still room for others to be better.

Let people combine different types of data sources (Maps Pipes), let them use their own layout, let them integrate the Maps in their own sites, etc.

Be creative and there's room you all :)

I see this as a positive move towards a wider adoption of the concept of "personal geography", which I think is an idea not very much extended among mainstream Internet users, and we see opportunities there for Tagzania, one of those geocentric sites...

It's also interesting to see Google catching up with concepts that we had clear when we launched Tagzania.com in 2005: create your maps, adopt GeoRSS... Obviously, we have to push further, being ahead of Google is like an interesting challenge.

On the business level, others will feel more pressure. Ours is a side project for a small company, sustainable so far, and feeling no pressure from investors or the bubble-burst-buzz around. Our focus is strengthen the features of Tagzania to better please users, and don't care much about Techcrunch gossip or how others may be sweating. As for the big actors, Google, Yahoo: We see their adoption of standards as a positive move, and the availability of APIs and web resources that precisely those giants are pushing, that's only good news for us, particulary when there are "competin" APIs. As for map imagery, Tagzania relies only on Google's right now, but that will evolve

Then the big guys add direct services that start-ups have imagined first, but, of course, we know that's going to happen some day, with this, that and many other things. But ther's room for niches and tailored community websites or services, no doubt about this.

[...] Google My Maps: Map Mashups for All The maps mashup landscape changed forever yesterday with Google’s announcement of My Maps, a new service which allows non-programmers to easily create maps mashups. With tens of thousands of maps mashups out there already this of course quickly lead to (tags: mashup interest blogs google api *****) [...]

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