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                              News and Views

Google Microlocal Maps?

July 23, 2003
/Mike Liebhold

Google and weather.com today announced  enhanced  targeted content and adverts for maps for 80,000 locations worldwide over broadband and wireless via high-speed Internet services, cell phones, pagers, Palm Pilots, and other personal digital assistants."

Here' the official Press Release.Wow!

Read the Google release carefully. They specifically mention 'search technology and targeted content'. I'll admit extrapoliting [above] cartographic rendering of Google search material. I suspect first generation release will have search listings in a caption box or sidebar. We'll probably have to wait quite a while for  search themed layers. As most people here well understand, the user interface will be very dificult.

After thinking about this overnight, I am now worried that Google and weather.com will hold the APIs very close. Google still hasn't even opened up 'Google News' or 'Google Image' APIs.   I'm still thinking about alternatives.

But, as  friend Kevin Kelly ( former Wired editor) said recently,

" This [geospatial stuff] is going to get bigger, faster than anybody thinks."

I hope he's right, this announcement could be a shockpoint.

On the other hand, Joshua Schacter observes:

"I bet it's something trivial, like the mapquest thing - they just use the location names to fetch context-sensitive ads.I go to weather.com, and enter my zip code, 10023. Which takes me to "Local Forecast for New York, NY" ... I get the same ads under "Sponsored Listings" as if I google for "New York, NY "

Maybe Josh is right, this is just a sales deal for the google ad division. Personally, I'm not  that easily reassured, just because the content is not there on the day of the announcement.  Why the language about ' search technology and targeted content"?  Clearly somebody in Google engineering or Google Labs has the assignment to develop the collaboration. And, there are definitely people inside Google who  are beginning to 'get it'  regarding  cartographic rendering of web search content. Whether or not  those people are assigned to this project is an open question. I guess we'll have to see how this unfolds over the coming months.

Meanwhile, I hope that somebody with ideas for applying semantic analysis of spatial web content is busy building an extensible open system for all of us to use. . The clock is ticking  It's only a matter of time before Google, or Yahoo, or more likely Microsoft rolls out something that we might have to pay dearly to use, one way or the other.


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