The Flatirons of Boulder, CO, as rendered by Google Earth. (Image via Wikipedia)
Recently Frank Taylor blogged about a cool Google Earth trick that could be an intriguing visual online news tool: homemade street views.
The example he cites is from Taiwan, where developer Steven Ho lives. Taylor wrote:
“[Ho] has been waiting for signs Google would bring Street View to Taiwan, but finally couldn’t wait any longer. So, he spent a few days making his own Street View panoramas for National Taiwan University campus. It turns out March is the month when the Indian azalea bloom, so he decided to take his street view photos along the famous Royal Palm boulevard. Steven took the time to not only take 150 panoramas, but also process his KML [Keyhole markup language, which is to Google Earth what HTML is to Web browsers] so it looks and acts just like Google Earth’s Street View imagery. He also added in some 3D buildings for the campus and the palm trees.”
The result is impressive. If you have Google Earth installed (and I recommend upgrading to Google Earth 5.0, which was released in February), then download Ho’s Taiwan street view and open that file in Google Earth. After it zooms in on Taiwan, click on any of the camera icons to start your visual wandering of the campus.
If you don’t have Google Earth, here’s a video screencast of what the experience looks like:
This made me think: What if a news organization offered this kind of immersive experience related to a news story or ongoing topic?…
This week I’m headed to the Bay Area for an extended visit. I have lots of friends there and there are plenty of cool things to do there. I’ve started mapping all this stuff on a private Google Map — where I’ll be staying, nearby public transit stops, gyms, massageclinics, coffeehouses, music venues, grocery stores, etc. I just assumed that since there’s a pretty good Google Maps app on my iPhone, I’d be able to import all that data easily. Right?
Right now, the closest I can get is to e-mail the link from my private Bay Area map to my iPhone. When I click that link in my iPhone e-mail, the map opens — in the phone’s Safari web browser, not in the Google Maps app. Which makes it much harder to use and far less useful on the go.