Friday, April 6, 2007

Google's accessible My Maps tool

Google describes how they have made it easy to create and share maps.
Official Google Blog: Map-making: So easy a caveman could do it: "That's why we're announcing My Maps, a new feature that makes it quick and easy to create your own custom Google Maps just by pointing and clicking. You can add placemarks, draw lines and shapes, and embed text, photos and videos -- all using a simple drag and drop interface. Your map automatically gets a public URL that you can share with your friends and family, or you can also publish your map for inclusion in Google Maps search results. We'll continue to show organic local search results with red pushpins; user-generated results will have blue pushpins. The user-created results include KML as well as maps made through My Maps."
I suspect that this is the killer app for making it possible for nearly anyone to contribute map data to the Read/Write/Map Web. Note that Google will use the maps to push targeted ad-markers. I haven't seen any of them show up on my maps yet so I don't know how objectionable that will be to the presentation. The color delineation helps at least to distinguish my local recommendations from those that have been made algorithmically from California.

Let's map our visions of preservation and change

In an earlier post, I suggested community mapping as a tool for identifying elements of a vision for Maine: Let's preserve AND change. This grassroots approach aligns with those advocated by GrowSmart Maine and the Brookings Report: Charting Maine's Future.

I described Nils Peterson's and my efforts to explore how a community could use collaborative mapping using an online mapping application. I also expressed disappointment in the supplier of the services we used because the developers abandoned the effort and left us without access to our data. Nils asked me recently if I had found any better tools for doing this kind of work.

Google has filled the gap with the "My Maps" application. It provides the tools and ways to access the data for use in other contexts. I created map to evaluate the tools and refine how we can use them. My initial thoughts are that they meet many of our goals. But they will require further exploration in order to know how to use them optimally. For example, the area marker for Zeke's Island disappears at the scale and view that fits all points. To see it, the user needs to click on the list of markers in the navigation panel. Google will refine the tool and we will learn how to use it and who will be able to participate.

Let's preserve AND change

Monday, April 2, 2007

Testing public Zoho Show

Brian Phipps describes the potential for collaborative presentations in his blog about the development of brands.

Zoho Show already supports public sharing of presentations in a blog via an iframe snippet. Here I test a very simple test case:

I'll have to find someone who wants to collaborate on the development of a presentation to see whether it supports the kind of goals that Phipps advocates and works for authentic collaboration. Show's capacity for uploading .ppt files might circumvent the process that Phipps encourages but might help people to make the transition from familiar ways to working to new ways.