April 8th, 2008
Six map apps that put Portland on the mapping map
Maybe it’s the fact that we’re a major inland port. Maybe it’s the affection for the outdoors that permeates the Portland culture. Whatever it is, we’ve got something for maps around here. Portland is map happy. And nowhere is that more evident than our obsession with the mapping APIs that further the technology of cartography.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at the mapping and location apps that call Portland, Oregon, home. (Thanks in no small part to the reigning King of mapping, Matt King. An “*” below identifies each of his mapping projects.)
The most well-known Portland-based mapping application, Platial, is the largest independent social mapping application. According to the Platial site:
Platial enables anyone to find, create, and use meaningful maps of Places that matter to them. Our dream is to connect people, neighborhoods, cities, and countries through a citizen-driven common context that goes beyond geopolitical boundaries. We are building Platial because we adore Places.
The admittedly “we did it for the fun of it project” that helps the would-be lush-on-a-budget find the nearest happy hour. And fast.
In Unthirsty‘s own words:
Unthirsty is the work of a group of like-minded souls who were always struggling (for obvious reasons) to remember where and when they last enjoyed that good happy hour. A plan of action was drawn up on beer sodden napkins over bargain pints and some mighty fine nachos. Thus, Unthirsty was launched and dedicated to the good of all mankind’s legally drinking denizens.
Yearning for yarn? Look no further than KnitMap, your way to finding all of your needling knitting needs or simply getting your Turkish Cast-on on.
KnitMap describes itself as:
[A] site that catalogues and maps the locations of retail shops that sell yarn, knitting supplies and knitting accessories. You can search to find these locations in the US, Canada, UK and most of Europe. Its anywhere that Google maps will work, and the list is growing everyday! Once you’ve found a shop, you can rate it’s attributes, leave comments, upload photos, and add it to your Favorites.
Think Unthirsty and KnitMap are cool, but interested in putting your own spin on the “plot and find [whatever] via Google Maps”? Then look no further than SocialMap, the mapping technology that powers both of those properties.
Why release SocialMap?
SocialMap was created to help solve the problems we encountered on the web within the communities we are a part of. Through its humble beginnings as a national Happy Hour finder, then a Knitting store locator, we noticed regions and groups that had a passionate user base, but were very underrepresented online. Existing websites and search engines were not only dated in their technology but lacked the ability for users to interact with the information presented.
Winner of the “Best Mashup” at this year’s Mashup Camp, Mapdango takes other API-accessible content and plots it on the map.
Mashup Awards described Mapdango as:
An extensive Google Maps mashup that lets you explore locations with helpful information including weather (WeatherBug), photos (Flickr), facts (Wikipedia), events (Eventful), news (Google News) and more.
New to the Portland mapping scene, WeoGeo takes a deep dive into online cartography, providing extremely detailed mapping options.
[WeoGeo] supplies surveyors, engineers, cartographers, and scientists with the ability to conveniently store, search, and exchange high-resolution CAD and GIS mapping products. Mappers easily list their data for sale. Researchers quickly find the data they need.
(Bonus) TwitterLocal* (formerly known as TwitterWhere)
It’s not a mapping application, per se, so I didn’t want to include it on the list. But TwitterLocal is another Matt King project that makes location information useful in the context of Twitter. Simply plug in a location and TwitterLocal will provide an RSS feed of the Twitter residents in that area, like Portland, for example. It’s a valuable tool for getting a feel for your neighborhood Twitter types.
That’s just a short list. But, admittedly, there’s so much mapping occurring in map-happy Portland, that I may have missed some obvious maps. If I did, please feel free to admonish me in the comments.