Geo Search Category Archive
Last week, Bowker announced an agreement with Microsoft that its Global Books In Print database will be used for "basic and value-added data that will enhance descriptions of books incorporated in the new Live Search Books." Considering that Live Books are primarily out-of-print, out-of-copyright books and that Global Books In Print covers, surprise, in-print books, it would be interesting to know how many matches between the two are found. I have yet to see any examples. Today, Google announces the addition of geographic data to its books. Books are analyzed for place names and a Google Map with a list of names and text snippets appear on some books' "About this book" page. It includes some snippet, limited preview, and full text books. According to Google,
When our automatic techniques determine that there are a good number of quality locations from a book to show you, you'll find a map on the "About this book" page.The only way to find out if a particular book has been so analyzed is to look at that book's "About this book" page.
Microsoft announces that they will be updating the aerial imagery in Live Local. Over 400,000 square miles of U.S. aerial imagery are supposed to "enhanced with high-resolution coverage." Interestingly, Greg Sterling notes that the imagery provider, GlobeXplorer, "was acquired by DigitalGlobe, which is one of the primary providers of imagery for Google Earth." That may cause some shifting of source data among the various geographic search engines in the future.
It looks like Google has rolled out a new feature within their general Web results. When a result is connected with a local business with a known address, a "plus box" will appear next to an address in blue after the snippet extract. Click the plus box to see the map, the address and phone, and a link to a larger map and directions. See Matt Cutts' example and screen shot in his explanatory blog post. It only covers the United States at this point.
Ask has re-done their local search and re-launched it as AskCity. It is designed to integrate four searches: Business and Services, Events, Movies, and Maps and Directions. It is pulling local information from Citysearch, Ticketmaster, OpenTable, Tripadvisor, and more. Other than going directly to AskCity, it should be available in the Search Tools bar on the right (unless you've customized that). It is not (yet) available in the links above the search box after running a search, even when city names are included in the search. The maps have a variety of drawing tools and snapshot boxes below the map. The left panel has the Business, Events, Movies, and Maps choices in drop down panes.
Flash Earth uses Flash to deliver both satellite and aerial imagery from a variety of providers including Google Maps, Microsoft Virtual Earth, Yahoo! Maps, Ask, and NASA. Click the Flash Earth header to get started and then try a search for a specific area. Zoom to an appropriate level, and then simply click the radio buttons in the upper right to compare the imagery. It is not the fastest application, but it certainly makes it easier to compare the various geographic search tools and the type of imagery that each has to offer.
Yesterday, A9 had a major redesign of its site along with a major accompanying loss of features. The A9 announcement notes that they have "redesigned the A9.com website to make it easier and quicker to discover information from more sources." It has more of a Web 2.0 look and feel, and I think they have achieved a more usable site. The databases are grouped together in the left column and are customizable. Searchers can build their own groups from the more than 400 source databases. Each column (one per database) now features continuous scrolling (like the beta of Live search used to offer and the Live Image search database still does).
Microsoft's Virtual Earth team announces the addition of street level imagery to Virtual Earth. The beta is available at http://preview.local.live.com/. It is supposed to be added to Windows Live Local this summer.
Alas, Jeeves the butler and long-time Ask Jeeves mascot is gone is an icon, as part of the name, and removed from the address. The search engine formerly known as Ask Jeeves is now just plain Ask.com, or Ask for short. Beyond the branding change, Ask has redesigned the site and moved links around. Many of Ask's additional databases are now linked in a right-hand box labeled Search Tools. Unfortunately, the Advanced Search page has moved off the front page. Click the "Next" under Search Tools to find the link to the advanced search page. On that second page, try the edit tool to re-order those links and bring the advanced search onto the front page. In addition, Ask has joined Google, Local Live, and Yahoo! with an AJAX-based map interface. In other words, you can drag the map around by clicking and holding the mouse key down and then dragging the map to reposition it. Like Google and MSN's Local Live, it includes aerial imagery as well as the maps.
A9 now makes it easier to find the Amazon BlockView, street-level images in combination with the newly launched A9 Maps beta site. The map date is NAVTEQ via MapQuest. See details in their Aug. 16 announcement.
In its continuing drive towards providing more portal style information, Google has now launched its own Maps project. This beta version uses data from NAVTEQ like many other Web mapping tools. It allows for zooming and dragging the map. It only covers the U.S. and Canada at this point. It can be searched by ZIP code and can map directions between two points. Gary has a more detailed analysis.