I’ve been thinking a lot about maps lately. I’ve never thought of myself as a geography nut and only recently have I come to appreciate the connective tissue that maps provide culturally and experientially. Whenever I’ve traveled and been lost (only happened once; no really!) the map was the universal piece between us that allowed me to convey what I needed. When I was in college, I had a map on the wall with pins in all of the places I’d been and pins on the places I’d go someday. Technology rekindled this affinity for the map. It started when I would upload images to Flickr and geo-tag them. (It only got worse with me uploading images (to Flickr) I’ve just shot with my iPhone and geo-tagging them on upload.) The purpose of this behavior originally was to be able to answer my kids question of, “where was this taken?”, when I’m no longer here or senile! It’s currently starting to feel like something else.
Recently, I went to Google’s My Maps and started to enter some personalized geographical information, such as the location of my favorite restaurants, cycling routes, concerts I’ve seen at Red Rocks, favorite snowboarding runs, etc. This again, may prove interesting to my kids and along with that, it’s a great way to share the things that I do with those that I choose. In the end it could be a fairly accurate representation of me. It will show locations (and dates?) of concert’s I’ve been to. It will show places I’ve traveled to. Trips to the zoo with my kids. It could also show where I’ve checked-in using Foursquare or Facebook.
It would be “interesting” to see where I’m mayor, deals at places I frequent, where my friends have checked in or tweeted from. Local news form Fwix or something like Front Porch Forum. Places that have live chat going on. A map of the area I travel (w/ times) and one that I specify I have an affinity for such as Highlands or Boulder. Some of this I covered in my post about hyper-local. What I didn’t add was localizing to the level of me.
A map could become a social object. Something to share with others. Something that would articulate what you were about through personalized images, videos and audio attached. These maps could be tweaked for privacy and shared by bumping your mobile device with another. The maps could also have augmented reality queues so when you were physically near something of interest, an alert would draw your attention to that item, encouraging to hold up your mobile device and view the information through a browser like Layar.
Maps could end up being the lynchpin between mobile and social; tying these two massive shifts in behavior together in one simple interface. We will see . . .