19 :: Mapping with Google

Today’s mapping experience is brought to you by the short ‘course’, Mapping with Google.  And it’s only day one but it’s already pretty clear that this ‘certificate course’ is more of a product overview of Google’s mapping products rather than a course on mapping concepts.

It’s also oddly timed. The first lessons in Unit 1 are built around the ‘new google maps’ which are still being rolled out on an request access basis. So I put in my request for the new maps (which while being problematic they are also pretty much inevitable) and continued the lesson using Google Maps on my Android.

While I don’t think I’m going to learn much about Google Maps, I am looking forward to the introductions to Google Earth and Google Map Engine Lite.


I was going to go into some detail about my experiences with the course, but I’ve opted for some vague generalizations instead.

First off, I’m still having difficulty finding a good use case for Google Earth. I guess if I wanted to go hiking in the mountains, I might want to use it to share trails but this use-case scenario from the course isn’t very captivating for someone like myself who lives in the flatlands.

Google Map Engine Lite is a much more compelling platform for data journalism than plain old Google Maps as it allows the user to select for a variety of features and the creator has a larger set of stylings to work with.  And, like Google Fusion Tables, it allows for datasets to be imported in csv format.  I know it can take in latitude and longitude – and I’m curious what other data formats it can accept – and it geocodes them into Google’s map projection.

I had a twitter conversation earlier this week with someone who was looking for such a resource : something simple that needed no scripting but allowed regular uploads of lat and long data. I suggested Google Fusion tables and my friend reported back that it worked well up to a point: he couldn’t export the geocoded data in any other form but KML: an open standard for ‘geobrowsers‘ like Google Earth.  Hmm.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *