5.04.2009

Map Mashups (Thing 32)

I had a lot more fun exploring Google Maps than I thought I would. Thus far my experience with Google Maps has been to get driving directions or to record mileage for business travel; although I was aware of the mashup capabilities, I never really had a need to use it, or so I thought.

My favorite mashup was the Mailbox Map website, a tool that shows all USPS mailboxes and post offices in a given location. While I know of at least four post offices in my area, they are never “on the way” whenever I am out and about – I always seem to be making special trips to the post office. It is nice to be able to lookup where other mailboxes are located…now if only I had cell phone to be able to do this when I am already out running errands, I’d be set.

If I had said cell phone, I would also frequent the Starbucks locator and Hotspotr, a wifi hotspot map. I particularly liked that Hotspotr included reviews of the wireless, food, and outlet situation at wifi spots, and I even added my own review of a coffee shop I recently visited, warning others that the wifi was nice but the coffee was not.

Wikitude

Wikitude displays landmark information.

Reading about Wikitude, a mobile travel guide for Android based phones, almost made me give in and buy the G1 after all. Wikitude sounds good as an overall travel guide, but the coolest feature is the augmented reality cam view,

…users hold the phone’s camera against a spectacular mountain range and see the names and heights displayed as overlay mapped with the mountains in the camera. Users may look out of an airplane window to see what is down there. Users may walk through a city like Seville, Spain, holding the phone’s camera against a building and Wikitude tells what it is.

Other mashups I enjoyed were MapVivo, which I would like to use the next time I go on a journal-worthy trip, and If I Dig a Very Deep Hole, Where Will I End Up?, which taught me that the hole I started in my backyard would not actually take me to China, but to the middle of the Indian Ocean – poor planning on my part.

With all that can be done with Google Maps, it made me wonder if some of the teachers who use Google Earth in the classroom might be able to use Google Maps instead. Doing so would both save on bandwidth and also allow those teachers to use the mobile lab, which does not have Google Earth installed; this could help alleviate issues we’ve had with lab scheduling and our limited bandwidth. I bet students could even create some very cool mashups of their own. This is definitely one Thing I want to explore further.

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