Wednesday, November 23, 2005

MASH UPS MIGHT NOT BE SMALL POTATOES

GOOGLE AND YAHOO COMBINE MAPS WITH LOCATION INFORMATION.

NEW YEARS EVE REVELERS ASK FOR MASH UP OF FAVORITE BARS AND DWI CHECKPOINTS(i).


About the time the Author learned to fold up a map along the same folds it came with, Yahoo released its Internet Map tool. Who needs maps when an Internet search engine can tell you where to go?

Google and Yahoo maps can give you the directions and a personalized map to a store, a restaurant, a job interview, or a friend’s house. Just hit a link or type in an address. You will get a map to print as well as directions telling you which roads to take and which ways to turn.

Last month Google and Yahoo released program interfaces that allow data about locations to be presented on their maps. The interface, used in a nontechnical sense, is called “Mash Up”. To get an idea of what a Google Mash Up looks like, go to this fellow bloggers' site:

http://googlemapsmania.blogspot.com/

There are already hundreds, probably thousands of Mash Ups. There are many of them linked at the site above. For example, one Mash Up has kosher restaurants plotted on a map of American cities. Another has locations of citings of endangered species.

Combined with Google’s Froggle, it can Mash Up local maps with shopping locations and price information. This is what sends shivers through the corporate boardrooms of big-box retailers.

YOU’RE THE INVESTMENT WRITER. TELL ME WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME, SAYS THE PRACTICAL READER.

If the Author knew what was in it with Mash Ups he would launch the idea himself and stop wasting his time on this Blog. (Smarmy remark.). Per an article in USA Today(ii) , a company called Quova can linkup website viewers or customer locations with a Google Map. One can imagine a million users for mash ups, commercial and non-commercial. Mash ups would be of benefit to people on the move to find traffic backups, restaurants, or where the best fishing is found in Otter Tail County, Minnesota. In real time.

In an earlier post from November 7th, “What Happens when you ‘Google’ Google?”, the Author discussed how Google and mobile technology could tell you where you could get the best price on an Amana Radar Range. You could swipe the bar code for the Radar Range when you are in Mega-Low Appliance Mart and compare that price with the other appliance stores in town. With a Mash Up, the prices and stores would be highlighted on a map.

The Author finds this Mash Up concept very intriguing and it will have some important, as well as a multitude of trivial, uses. That is what the Internet provides and it will be fun, and hopefully profitable, to watch this evolve. But the technology would not appear to be that complicated and simple utilities to create Mash Ups are probably already available. So it might take some imagination to come up with business models for Mash Up business concepts.

Mash Up services might be a service for IT consultants and others to offer to small businesses and organizations. Email the Author and maybe we can kick around some ideas. In fact, a somewhat unusual, but G-rated one, just came to mind. Culled from the Author’s rural roots.

Mash Ups may Find Fertile Soil with Down Home Businesses.


Agricultural seed companies have “show plots”. For non-farmer types, if you have ever driven down a country road and seen the name of a seed company and a number such as “232” on a small sign in front of a farm field, that indicates a show plot. In fact, if it is a cornfield and late in the growing season, some of the ears of corn may be husked back to show how well the ears of corn have developed.

The seed companies put these show plot signs up as marketing tools. People who drive by the show plot can stop and look at the crop to see how well it is doing. By using just a database search of show plots and a Google map, a seed company or seed salesman could quickly do a Mash Up and have maps of show plots available for a township or county. He could post it on the website or print it(iii).

Admittedly, the example above is a (sorry, the Author cannot resist punning it) corny one. But it is a workable one and shows how Mash Ups could be marketing tools for small businesses using only an Access (or other simple) database and a Mash Up utility.

SOMETIMES KNOWING WHERE NOT TO BE IS AS IMPORTANT AS KNOWING WHERE TO BE.

A person who lives a somewhat disreputable lifestyle could mash up their ex-wives, ex-girlfriends, ex-employers, ex-friends and map out all of the places that they should avoid. Such a Mash Up could save Mike Tyson and Russell Crowe a lot of fines and grief. Maybe even some jail time.

THE AUTHOR PROMISES HE WILL NEVER MASH UP HIS READERS AND FIND OUT WHERE ALL OF YOU LIVE IN THE DESERT OF THE REAL!

i. This example is not in good taste and should not be encouraged. Sometimes, however, a “bad” example is the most illustrative example. And it would be doable if you had access to the DWI checkpoint information and the hot clubs in town. A more positive law enforcement use is the mapping of the locations of convicted child molesters in a city. This second example is one that someone is already doing.
ii. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columnist
/kevinmaney/
2005-08-16-maney-google-mashups_x.htm
iii. The seed companies often track data from show plots and track their locations. But if one wanted to offer a farmer a sell-guided tour of show plots, this would be a simple way to do it. Just put a show-plot Mash Up map in a plastic bag with a promotional item and hand them out to prospects and current customers

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