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Jan 16, 2008

What is Geogle?

In this first article, let's talk about roughly the relationship between Geography and . That will help answer why this site is named Geogle.

Nowadays , the web service giant Google, is leading us into the web 2.0 era. This trend greatly influences geographical research especially those related with what is called geographical information system (GIS). Google and GIS have a natural association with each other. Google became famous as a search company focusing on looking for specific information for Internet users as well as location information. While GIS was born from computer-aided map design which is now the foundation of Google map.

Google can provide very fine data resources (shape files and images) with very low cost. Today's Google map and Google earth client software provides us very fancy functionalities like "search a place", "find business" and "get the direction" as well as 2D and 3D view of your local area. But, compared with the extensive capabilities of GIS especially in the aspect of geospatial analysis. Google has still a lot of room to improve itself. In other words, today's Google is actually far from exerting its full potential. Google map can work mainly based on its excellent database search ability, however, there are some other implementations like location analysis, spatial analysis and geovisualization which is more important to satisfy the needs of increasing number of advanced Internet users.

As the Director of the Microsoft Local Search and Virtual Earth Business Unit -- Vincent Tao said Web 1.0 is mainly about "the death of the distance". During that time, the location on the web is transparent and social network are independent of distance. For example, we can easily contact with friends on line instead of meeting each other. And E-commence becomes location-unaware. You can buy books, clothes and whatever you want on ebay, amazon and so on and so forth but you don't care where the good actually is. Moreover, search is universal: finding information from anywhere and everywhere.

However, in the latest 2 or 3 years, the use of Internet is changing unnoticeable but rapidly. According to a recent survey, what are internet users really looking for? The first one is "Search specific topic", followed by "Getting the direction and maps" on the Internet. It even precedes reading for news and shopping on line. What is the most commonly used key words-location related search. 63% of the Internet users are actually performing the local search like finding a book store, a supermarket or get directions all that kind of stuff. And what are mobile users looking for? The second one is taking pic followed by the 3rd one "find location based information". However, taking pictures is also kind of local information if you really think that.

So, here comes the Web 2.0 which is all about "the emergence of the location". First, the Web itself is spatially organized(IP address and host/server). And in Web 2.0 what is noticeable is what we called the www redefinition--www stands for what, where and when. Nowadays, we still rely on the index of data to run online search. However, in Web 2.0 era, we can even use location and time to search temporal and spatial information. More than E-commerce, what is now called a L-commerce is finally appreciated. According to a survey, 90% of ebay online transactions are done off line. So how to bring online and offline on the same road is the very next issue.

All what we are talking above is actually part of the whole online mapping service. Evolution of on-line mapping services is generalized by Vincent Tao in the following processes:
(1) Maps and directions: how to find a location and route on the map.
(2) Map search: how to find the information of the yellow book on the map.
(3) Local search: For example, you don't know the location and telephone number of a dentist, how can you find the best dentist in my neighborhood.
(4) Local service: A lot more advanced local search but with user friendly interface.