Here's my plan for a useful Google maps tool: take the FCC's database of radio station information (e.g. stations in Des Moines), and figure the span of each station (like so) to provide a tool that allows people to click a location on a Google map, and get a list of radio stations and signal strengths for that location. Bonus points: 1) Search Google for each station's website, 2) Search each website for an online version of the station's audio, 3) Provide an interface for listening to each station.

Now, who wants to make it?

 

Way back before Google maps existed, I had this plan to mix tags, a la del.icio.us, with a map of a city. When .info domain names were being given away for free, I registered bloomington-normal.info with the intent of some day creating a site where users could create maps socially. I thought it would be neat to be able to pull up a map of all the poorly designed intersections, or all the bomb shelters in Bloomington-Normal. I also thought such a site could be used by door-to-door canvassing groups to mark houses as visited or unvisited. And more.

Then Google maps came along, and people immediately started playing with ways to interact with the maps. I figured it was only a matter of time before someone created something similar to my vague idea, only on a national or global scale. So I waited. But to my surprise, nothing came. Until now.

Tagzania is pretty much what I had in mind - del.icio.us meets Google maps. But I think there are a few things still missing. First, locations often have associated websites, and users should be able to pull these websites from Google, or (better yet) add these websites themselves. Second, photos of locations would be incredibly useful. Third, there should be some mechanism for aggregating a group of locations under a single name (e.g. by country, state, city, park, etc. Users are already trying to get this functionality with tags, e.g. spain, berlin, etc. But this is location data that rightly belongs on the map, not in the tags.

Ideally, I'd like to be able to draw a box around my house and name that box with my address. Then I'd like to place a pin at the front of my house, give that pin tags like "porch music," and assign a picture of myself playing music on my porch. Then I'd add a pin to the back of my house with tags "dog" and a picture of my neighbor's dog. Then maybe I'd tag the building as a whole with "rent."

This would allow people to find places where people play music on their porch (which I don't do, but might if I thought random people might come by looking for it.) It would allow people to find places to rent, check if they have dogs nearby, and if so, look at the dogs to see if they look friendly enough to consider renting. And these are just the possibilities with my house. A location where things are actually happening has much more potential. Throw in a standardized system for adding dates to locations, and a tagged event map is possible.

For yet another example, Ian is today participating in part of RAGBRAI, an annual bike ride across the state of Iowa, and he's posting photos to his Flickr account with the tag "ragbrai", which makes these photos join a group of ragbrai-tagged photos. This is neat, but it would be much cooler to be able to place those photos on a map and see where RAGBRAI is going.

I look forward to seeing Tagzania or something like it explore the possibilities of tagged mapping. Meanwhile, I'll be thoroughly tagging Des Moines.