Archive for ‘Maps’

March 2, 2012

Google Maps: Foreign affairs and social skirmishes

Google Earth and Google Maps are probably the most popular, free online cartography reference tools for the public.

Google Map art

Map markers away! Fighting the cartographic unknown

Foreign affairs

Popularity is not the same as authority[1]:

The lines that Google draws on maps have no government’s imprimatur.

How an online map almost caused a violent conflict

If Google Maps show borders or place names that are different from official or long-established usage, they can confuse, offend or worse[2]:

On Nov. 3, 2010, a Nicaraguan official justified his country’s incursion into neighboring Costa Rica’s territory by claiming that, contrary to the customary borderline, he wasn’t trespassing. For proof, he [cited] Google Maps.

Google should not be involved in geopolitical disputes

Google DOES try to offer meaningful, accurate maps.

July 21, 2011

Maps minus the map

With the approach of Google’s massive API deprecation at year-end, I have paid closer attention than ever to Google products. (The API deprecation news was followed by an announcement about winding down Google Labs earlier this week).

I really enjoy Google Maps, whose API is among the deprecated. While reading more about it, I happened to notice a most unusual looking Google-esque map.

This had that distinctive look and feel of Kotke to me. Although the image, see below, appeared on the Programmable Web blog, I promptly unearthed evidence that was highly suggestive of a Kotke origin. The title revealed all.

Google Maps without the Map

Google styles in maps

Showing off Google styles in Google Maps. Without the map.

I highly recommend giving it a try. Visit Maps without the Map for entrée. Try accessing some of the usual Google Maps features, like Streetview. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the version without the map, so to speak, is integrated with the real Google Maps. The sans map version uses JavaScript along with some CSS-like functionality for color choices.*

For explanatory details see the Programmable Web post (September 2010).

For visual fun, play with this image gallery of Google Maps Styles, and this excellent tutorial** on how to get the most out of Google Map Styles in general.

For specific usage guidelines, review the Google Maps Styles documentation.

Notes

*    Take a look at the map footer. The plain white Google logo featured in the sans map version is amusing!
**  I found the Google Maps Styles tutorial (May 2011) on the rather excellent BestFromGoogle website, an unofficial Google-themed blog. It is much more substantive than my own modest Google hobby blog. Features include code snippets, various tutorials and other cool stuff, in a readable, well-designed format.

June 5, 2011

Google photos for businesses

sample Google Maps for business page

Sample Google Maps, Places for businesses

Business Photos from Google are now available to businesses with listings in Google Places.

Google Places listings are seen by any Google Maps user. This feature should help small businesses who want to reach more local customers. Google photographers will take interior shots of businesses, which is distinctly different from the exterior imagery ordinarily seen on Google Maps.

…sign up for a photo shoot by Google trusted photographers. The images will appear on your business’ Place page, and as 360-degree imagery using Street View technology.

Availability

The Business Photos feature is being rolled out gradually based on geographic area. The comprehensive FAQ page includes locations and timelines.

If interested in participation, a short application must be completed.

June 4, 2011

Bing and the Global Ortho Project

Bing Maps lags Google Maps in market share. However, Microsoft has worked hard to catch up.

Microsoft Bing Maps and the innovative Global Ortho Project

Bing Maps

Quentin Hardy of Forbes Magazine recently featured some very clever and original work by Bing in his article about the Global Ortho ProjectThe project goal is to create

a uniform, detailed map of the Continental United States and 17 countries in Western and Central Europe

Microsoft’s focus in investing so heavily in mapping services may be for the enterprise market.  Mr. Hardy notes that Google has just announced a cloud based mapping service for business.

By air not by sea

Nor by land.

Google Maps is known for its street view feature and use of land-based vehicles for mapping (among other things). In contrast, Bing Maps is approaching by air. The Global Ortho Project uses high-resolution cameras to fly over and capture images. It is the culmination of a long-term effort to automate and improve aerial imagery mapping techniques.

The Global Ortho Project is based on innovative and original technology. Bing might match or even surpass competitors in creating high quality photographic maps.

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