Google Maps Over-Easy

There have been other, better, web apps for making maps out there, notably Platial, Mapbuilder, and more recently Atlas.

But they all rely on geotagging databases and map interfaces acquired via Google and Yahoo APIs, so — why not go straight to the source? My Maps is so easy, Google insists, that even a caveman could do it. I love the fact that Google is marketing itself as the Web app creator for the Internet caveman, and I’m sure their stockholders do too.

This is pretty cool — now when I post video — I can really place it. On the map below I pinpoint exactly where Barack Obama stood when he spoke at a rally in February in Los Angeles. Click on the placemark and you can watch the video I shot, in which many attendees spoke up. And it even allowed me to embed the Revver script Actually, on second look, it appears to be blocking the Revver video, even though it originally worked, as evidenced by the screenshot below. I will place a second placemark with the video via (much lower quality) YouTube next to the first.

Google Earth was never a very user-friendly app until now — now that anyone can incorporate their own data, mark up their own maps, photos, etc and fly around it in Earth. Dan Gillmor says the maps are about to go “super-mainstream,” to which I’ll emphatically add — bring it on. The use of maps in mashup web sites and applications like flickr and upcoming are growing in popularity and functionality… but Google’s move with My Maps opens the door to more community based content and mashups — like Yahoo has with upcoming and flickr — and hopefully this will lead to more collaboration and the opening of APIs — enabling greater depth to visual storytelling and data, with increased drag ‘n’ drop simplicity.

For now, Google thrusts ahead with one key feature — all publicly shared MyMaps are geo-indexed via the associated KML file for Google’s local search engine and for use on GEarth. And it goes both ways — now all KML files created in Earth can be searched on GMaps. As Brady Forrest points out, no other mapping app does this.

Here’s the user guide. Or go play by visiting maps.google.com and clicking MyMaps. But, while you can export your map directly into Google Earth and save the KML — essentially reverse engineering the geodata to addresses — there doesn’t seem to be a simple module for uploading batch data, such as census data, or a list of addresses and even geocodes of the nearest grocery stores. Would that be too infringing on Google’s so called metadata and search product?

Mathew Ingram fears that this indeed may be a lock-in tactic by the great GOOG. Andy Beal also cautions that this may be another example of Google reigning in their API and kicking the others in the gut.

As Jason Calacanis posted this morning, Google is almost threatening in their language banning metasearching, in spite of the fact that it has rarely gone to court. Google deserves all the credit they get, but as they are kings of search, I mean, do you have to get picked up by Google Labs to legitimately experiment with the data? Ah, but I digress…

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