A new world unfolding

Wednesday, May 9, 2007 at 2:17 PM

Welcome to the Google "geo" blog. As web mapping (dare I say "the geoweb"?) matures, we're finding that we have a lot more to communicate about new developments in Earth, Maps, Local, and our APIs. The tools are becoming more powerful, more accessible, and more interrelated -- not only to each other, but also to the web at large and to things like search. Things are changing so fast we thought a blog focused on this topic would be the best way to communicate with you, both about our products and about the overall development of geo on the web.

So... what is the "geoweb"? Some people will scratch their heads and call it buzzword proliferation. Others, including Mike Liebhold, who has a long history of thinking and writing about this area, have a very well defined notion of what they believe it is (or should be). I don't think that there is agreement on what the geoweb is, but I think there is a lot of enthusiasm and energy across many fronts to make it happen. I expect the "it" will evolve substantially over the next few months and years as we (the geo ecosystem on the web) collectively figure out how "earth browsers," embedded maps, local search, geo-tagged photos, blogs, the traditional GIS world, wikis, and other user-generated geo content all interrelate. Those of us who work on geo products and services at Google believe we have an opportunity to make the web more useful -- and ultimately, to improve people's lives through better information and understanding.

At the moment, the biggest news on this front at Google is My Maps and geo search. My Maps makes it super-easy to create a custom map -- everything from real-time fire maps to congressional delegations geoblogging their trip to Iraq. And geo search (the ability to search all kinds of geographical information) makes it possible for people to discover these maps through normal "local" searches simply by clicking on the "see user-created content" link (it works in both Earth and Maps). A couple of examples are windsurfing near San Francisco and Jerry Seinfeld in NY. As cool as this integration is, the real news is that geo search doesn't just search My Maps. It also searches KML documents across the web. And, through KML sitemaps, Google has made it possible for sites like Platial, Smugmug, and Propsmart to make their maps searchable through geo search as well. Our goal is to help foster the ecosystem of geo development across the web. We will continue to look for ways to evolve our current products and to invent new ones that will make this possible. Check back here for the latest. We are looking forward to seeing many of you at Where 2.0 and the Google Developer Day.