AROUND A MONTH AGO, little questions started appearing on my Sony Xperia Z5 screen when the phone detected I was near a business that was displayed on Google Maps. My phone started asking me to offer my quick rating of that business. When I tapped deeper into the notifications, I discovered that I was in the Google Local Guides programme, something that evolved from the days I used Google Latitude seven years ago.
Along with several creative multimedia lecturers, I'd explore Ireland with Latitude and when I marked locations as favorites, their stars would appear o my desktops and on other handsets whenever I upgraded my phones. The original favorites--often hard-to-find rural businesses--still pop up on maps as I scroll around Ireland. The permanence of what Google keeps on its maps is astounding. If you want to have a point of presence, you need to be a pinpoint on Google Maps.
The elegance of Google Local borrows some Swarm business process logic but it's faster than both Foursquare and TripAdvisor. For that reason alone, I've started adding ratings, comments and photos to Google Local. And I am going to learn from the way it works so we can amplify the animation production, game art design and creative multimedia programmes on the Clonmel campus of the Limerick Institute of Technology. I also want to start including street view photos on my check-ins, using the Ricoh Theta S camera.
If I could afford the data roaming charges, I would use Google Local as my trusted travel concierge while in Northern Ireland next month, cross-referencing the on-screen results with Foursquare Tips and TripAdvisor ratings.
I teach an academic module called "Web Analytics" and need to figure out how to connect part of its syllabus to signals on Google Maps. I'm starting by looking at Google Map Hacks and plan to create a blog post that explains where I'm headed with the academic experiment. I believe I will be using cloud services from both Google and Microsoft as part of my academic work.
By next summer, I hope to ride in a car that comes off the manufacturing line with Google Maps running on the dashboard. It would be fantastic to spot some of my Google Local information running in those cars on touchscreens passengers can use to enhance their journeys on the back roads of rural Ireland. And it will be interesting to see what the car thinks as we turn onto the half mile private laneway where we live. It's not on Google Street View and that means national couriers are very confused when trying to drop off packages to our front door.
+++ Bernie Goldbach teaches creative media for business in the Limerick Institute of Technology. He was one of the first 20 people in Ireland to use Google Latitude in 2009.