The pace of development of new mapping mashups (mostly using Google Maps) is almost impossible to follow. But it’s one of the most interesting stories going on just below the general technology news radar screen. A great place to keep track of all this is the blog Google Maps Mania, which faithfully chronicles all these mapping developments. Here’s a recent post on 11 great new maps mashups, for example.
One of the sites profiled in that post is a local Bay Area travel site called 71Miles. One could argue also that Trulia is a mashup site, just on another level of sophistication and funding. Accordingly, on the one hand these are just websites using maps to “visualize” data. On the other hand, the APIs have enabled the rapid development and proliferation of lots of useful and fun mashups online by anyone with even limited developer skills.
If you spend any time reading Google Maps Mania or checking out these mashups you realize that these sites are often very valuable. But discovering them is the problem for most people (who probably wouldn’t know to look for them in the first place). There are search engines for mashups (e.g., MapShark). But there’s a larger challenge here — I guess a kind of microcosm presented by the Internet as a whole — regarding how to organize and present all this mapping information, which is exploding.
Micosoft’s Collections and Google’s new MyMaps will only accelerate the trend. And the thing that all these maps have in common is that they’re fundamentally about local search.