Lunaya Pravda

04 January 2007

Geeking out over WikiMapia

I just wanted to take a moment to rave about the WikiMedia Foundation's WikiMapia. It's an online map whereby users can find, mark, and describe just about any location using Google Maps data as its base. It's searchable by city, place name, or tag. As with other Wikimedia endeavors, you can edit and report for deletion anything you find misleading, incorrect, or just plain silly (such as people who think it's cool to find their house and label it "Annie's house". Or even worse, "My house".)

Want to find Machu Picchu? Here it is. The Hagia Sophia? Done. How about the temple of Angkor Wat? No problem.

Another useful feature is the page header changes depending on your location, giving you the country, region, and nearest city. It works with Google Earth, if you have it installed, and can be used in a GPS.

One change I'd like to see is the ability to hide locations not of your preferred language. As it stands now, there are posts in multiple languages (which is to be expected - it makes sense that much of what can be found in Japan is tagged in Japanese), but unless your desired place is famous, it makes for a bit of unpleasant hunting to find english placeholders for that same location, if english placeholders even exist. You can specify your language, but that applies only to new locations you identify, and any comments you might make on existing locations.

I look forward to seeing how this will improve over time, but so far, I'm impressed already.

(Note, it defaults to satellite coverage when you load it, so though you can turn the satellite layers off, dial-up users should proceed with caution.)