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Google adds personalized mapmaking to Google Maps

In an effort to add more social sharing to Google Maps, Google announced today the availability of My Maps, an extension of its web-based mapping tool. My Maps allows any user to create a personalized map—tied to his or her Gmail login—that can contain a variety of information, such as a path mapped out of a walk around a city or a road trip across the country, a photo montage of a trip, text describing what happened at particular locations, or even embedded video of various landmarks. My Maps is accessible by going to Google Maps and then clicking on the "My Maps" tab next to "Search Results" in the left column. HangZhou Night Net

Creating a personalized map and adding things to it are simple—just drag and drop lines, shapes, or placemarkers onto the map. A few maps have already been created to demonstrate what kinds of things can be done: there's a map of Olympic host cities with links to Wikipedia for more information, a map of the Googleplex complete with pictures for each landmark, and a map of someone's trip across Japan. Even I got into the fun of creating a map of random pictures I had taken around the city of Chicago (along with a path or two for walks I'd taken). More pictures will likely be added throughout the day—it's addicting.

Clicking the blue marker will show a picture
I placed on My Map of the restaurant

Each map gets a unique URL for sharing with family and friends, but users can also choose to have their maps published publicly for inclusion alongside regular Google Maps results. This means that whenever someone searches for Fogo de Chao in Chicago, they'll see the red Google Map result for the restaurant as well as the blue marker for the picture that I planted there on my own map.

The functionality is somewhat similar to Flickr's mapping tool, which allows users to drag and drop photos from their Flickr feeds directly onto a map. But unlike Flickr, Google's My Maps allows for the inclusions of other types of media as well as path-mapping and other functionality. Adding pictures is not as simple as Flickr's solution, however, and an average layman may have to learn some very basic HTML in order to include photo/media links into his My Maps landmarks. A solution for people who are not quite as computer-savvy as some of us would be to offer a box that explicitly asks for the URL to a photo in addition to the HTML box. Regardless, My Maps looks like a fun tool to tell media-rich travel stories to friends, family, and even strangers.