Thursday, November 22, 2007

Shmapplet: Maps, Visuals, Text for a Great Virtual Tour Mashup’s map-text-image mashup is quickly becoming my favorite mashup, because it gives me the chance to create a virtual tour that’s visually attractive, easy to follow, and easy to use. The only downside is that the detailed maps (from google maps) are only available for a limited number of places, and so it’s hard to take a tour outside the boundaries of the pre-made map. Nevertheless, I highly recommend schmapplets, and encourage you to see my little first attempt, located here: Shmapplet:

For example, I wanted to do a tour of Oklahoma oil and gas exploration and production, but was not able to go outside the boundaries of Oklahoma City. What I did was to wander around Oklahoma City and then ask individuals to contemplate places far from where they were physically located.

I guess that’s a different kind of virtual tour (!)

Schmapplet has a number of prepackaged features, which are really attractive. They have virtual tours of many cities, and the directories have already put together map location, address, and detail of the type of establishment it might be.

It’s a great interactive travel guide. A word of caution, though – the experience is only as good as the data that underlies the experience.

Out-of-date and incorrect information render a tour guide pretty useless. This could be a problem for Schmapplets – they need to have a dynamic database rather than a static one. I am hoping that’s what they have.

Here’s my schmapplet, Oil and Gas Exploration in Oklahoma, located here:

As much as I love, here are a few things that I’d love to see incorporated:

1---Larger maps. I would like to be able to incorporate stops in a map of the state, or map of a country. I don’t like being confined to a single city.

2---Ability to embed scripts in the html text. For example, I’d like to be able to embed YouTube videos and also music. I wanted to have Felix da Housecat’s “Now That the Love Is Gone” playing in a loop for either “The Petroleum Club,” or “Tulsa, World Oil Capital.”

3—Clearer information about how to enter author information and contact info. It seems to be missing.

That said, I love Schmapplets and am eager to start sharing my little 9-stop virtual tour of Oklahoma Oil and Gas, which includes secondary recovery, waterfloods, shale gas, and innovative methods, as well as history and personal memories of oil and gas exploration.

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