Pipes Mashup Turns Google Maps into a Blogging Tool
You might think of Google Maps as, well, maps — a way to find business location and get directions. But that’s really just the tip of the iceberg, Google’s mapping interface supports all sorts of other goodness — like the ability to create your own maps and share them.
Thanks to a little help from Yahoo’s Pipes, you can even blog from Google Maps. Think of it as your own personal geo blogging tool.
Taking advantage of Google’s MyMaps feature, which allows you to create and customize your own maps, Hirst has created a Yahoo Pipe that can parse the output of your map and turn it into a geo-aware RSS feed — perfect for adding a location context to your posts.
Although the general model of blogging is to post chronologically, there’s been a growing trend toward location-based posting. Current events, news, reviews and all kinds of other information can be made even more useful by adding a location context. Rather than simply knowing when something happened, readers can also quickly see where it happened.
But the problem is that adding location data to your blog is often quite difficult to set up, which is where Hirst’s tools come in handy.
Say, for instance, you want post something about news in your neighborhood, just head into Google Maps, zoom in on your area and drop in a new marker. That will pop up a bubble with space to enter a title and description — just post your blog entry in the description field and you’re done.
Hirst has essentially turned Google Maps into a geographical blogging interface. As he writes on his blog, “each marker on the map corresponds to a separate post, or feed item.” The trick is passing the “View in Google Earth” link from your map to the pipe which will then create a valid geoRSS feed.
From there your friends can add the feed to their RSS reader and interact as they normally would. The map itself can then act as your blog homepage (given the complexity of Google Maps’ URLs it might be a good idea to use a URL shortening service).
In addition to the basic functionality described, Hirst’s tool supports adding a date to each post using the construct: date: February 11th, 2008. That way your posts still have the time-component as well. You can even add dates like “today”, which will give the post the current date (the date the pipe is run).
There’s also the option to associating a URL with the title of each post. If you’d like your title to link to another page just use: url:http://example.com or link:http://example.com/foo/bar.html.
Hirst also recently released a Pipe that parses geocoding locations declared in Twitter posts (using the “L” syntax, which is the Twitter shorthand way of specifying your location).
Location-aware blogging, Twittering and nearly everything else is going to get far more common in the future. And that’s a good thing, we’ve already seen how sites can leverage this information to give you local news — like EveryBlock — but it won’t stop there, location information will become the new must have tool of web apps everywhere.