No excuse for geting lost

My Google MapsTwo years ago, Google changed the way we looked at maps with the launch of Google Maps.

Soon after we began to see map mashups spring up, combining the map with all kinds of information. I’ve written about a few I thought would be interesting to hikers and backpackers.

Until recently, creating a mashup required a little technical knowledge. Not a lot, because even I have created them, but it took enough that few people added them to blogs or used them to track their whereabouts. Even with the use of a blog plug-in like Cyberhobo’s WordPress Geo Mashup, they required more technical skill than most people wanted to mess with.

The trend is now shifting. Now anyone can create a map and put it on their own site. What’s more, they can collaborate with them and share them.

The first map-sharing service I’m aware of is Platial. Last month WordPress.com opened up a Platial widget to its subscribers.

The latests of these is, well, Google Maps. A new tab has been added that says, “My Maps.” Here you can add your own markers, draw routes, lines and shapes, and share them with others. They’re easy to create.

Google hasn’t opened up the new feature as much as Platial. You can’t put your maps on other sites, like you can put YouTube video on another site, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see that soon.

Dan Gilmor thinks this is a big step.

Mapping is about to go super-mainstream, and we are just at the edges of understanding how powerful it will be.

He’s right. Services like these help make maps an important means of content sharing and community building. And because outdoor activities rely on maps, I expect you’ll see them show up with greater frequency in blogs and community sites.

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