Notes: How to Make the Most of Maps

The following are my panel notes from SXSW. As I am not the fastest typer I have paraphrased what was said. Should you notice any mistakes please do point them out in the comments for corrections.

JC: Started work on community walk before Google maps API became public. CW allows people to map out things in their lives and it's used for wedding and barhops. Explore tech demo from staging server. Allows you to add markers to Google maps based on categories. It also allows you to form communities. You can add/edit categories. You can add any content to a given location such as QuickTime videos etc. Ties the real world with the Internet.

PJ: I'm the lead developer for wayfaring. It's a RoR project. There was a difference between where we thought it was going to go and to where it actually went. Jack tracker is a map that tracks where Jack Bauer went in the TV series 24.

Make the signup process easy for people so that they will use the maps easily. Shows users tracking the maps they like. Wayfaring has a forum for bug tracking and we listen to people. The address lookup only works in the US so they added a long/lat lookup.

GM: Me here provides GPS functionality to any website. Has output for Google Earth. Me here then works as a greasemonkey script to add your location of other Google maps sites. Video showing hacking a user.js file to find the part of the page to add the me here link to.

DC: Google earth hack. KML file xml with network link so you can keep updating it on an interval. Garnix is an open source software to get data from a gps device. Get co-ordinates into a text file. This can set up to dynamically alter the kml file. This can also be sent out as a geo RSS feed so I can view the info on any mapping site. Yahoo!/Google etc.

It's hard to get location data onto the internet. Geo tagging on Flickr. anything that takes tagging can have geotagging can then stick that information onto maps. Zonetag is for mobile phones. If I upload to Flickr it will record the cell location and pin you down. Cell tags have image recognition to identify are you inside where are the shadows. Camel tags are fun tags. CamelHumpingCount = 1. Urban features. 35 ways - Chris Heathcote. OpenStreetMap poster created from couriers with GPS units. mapping data not free in the UK so open data is really important. Capturing this information can show popular stuff going on. If 50 people are taking pics at one place at one moment then this must be an important event.

Q (KC): How do you choose which API to use?
DC: MS virtual Earth is a great API if you use IE. Google maps is a great API to get up and running as it is fast. Yahoo! maps is a nice middle ground. It has flash maps so it can be .swf file a plume of smoke or a hole appearing and a bug climbing out.
JC: I got turned off by the Yahoo! API. There's a ceiling changes to the API might break your code. If you go out of the boundaries of the documented API then you run the risk of the APi changing.

Q: Talk about how community walk came together.
JC: It was more of an entrepreneurial thing more than anything else. I found people to do the redesign. blogging means if you have something interesting then the news travels at lightspeed. The design company did the re-design for free because I couldn't afford the price.

Q: Standardization of design and features. Wayfaring and CW are similar.
PJH: Wayfaring is very simple to use and that is what everyone likes. Every time we add a new feature we make sure that it's not going to confuse people. We tend to stick to simplicity.
JC: the vision between Wayfaring and CW are different. Both are responding to user feedback, which is why there are similarities.


Q: There's not an easy way to overlay the visual layer in the API. How do you do it?
GM: Yahoo has the flash ability or you can do it manually.
JC: I know of a product that will come out soon which will help with exactly this.

Q: Does anyone in this room have a professional background in geography.
2 people did.


Q: What's your business model is?
JC: Yes there is a plan. And we have customers who want to use the service. Also you can use contextual advertising. There's a lot of different directions to go in. I think there's a lot of business opportunity there. budget is the only restriction.
DC: All those people doing mashups I did the same and now I work for Flickr.

Q: the API mashups use different data to Google local.
JC: Navtech won't allow Google to supply map data to the API.

Q: Could Google have a system for users to edit the mapping data.

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