Platial – mashup with meaning

Platial

Have you had a chance to check out Platial yet?

It’s a big call, but I think this is possible my favourite Google Maps mashup to date.

Platial allows you to create your own maps using the Google Map interface, as well as add to other people’s maps. You can map *anything* you like. So, because it’s about people making meaning with maps/places, you end up with some really interesting content.

Some of the maps are very personal – trips that people have taken, places they frequent regularly, places they’ve had car accidents. Others are useful community tools – Stereo shops that don’t suck, restaurants, commuter public transportation, band tour maps. Here’s a little sample:

Example Maps

Of course, as with all things Google Maps, it’s all v. US and Euro centric. Here in Australia we can still get down to a reasonable level of detail, but we’re still waiting for the maps (hurry up Google!).

You can add a new place or copy a place that other people have already added onto a new or existing map. It’s a social application, you can gather ‘buddies’ into your network. A member pages shows all the places, maps and buddies that you (and other members) have collected.

The interface design is nice and clean and, surprisingly, they don’t have a very 2.0 logo (they don’t have much of a logo at all actually). Overall, a really enjoyable experience.

Platial

The real kicker is the content, though. Through the geographic interface, Platial provides a rich and interactive means of learning and experiencing content. I found myself laughing out loud at people’s descriptions of traffic accidents they’d had in the past (described funnily, not because I’m a sadist!).

One map shows on a map locations where influential women in history lived. Only because of the ‘chunked’ style of content presentation and the additional meaning imparted through the use of the map based interface did I actually engage with some of this content and learn about influential women from New Zealand. (you’ll have to go find her for yourself!)

From a technical perspective there may not be anything particularly amazing about Platial, but their execution of this simple but powerful idea is excellent, and the small but growing community that they are attracting will further enrich the application and impart some really powerful and significant meaning to an interface that can, at times, be dry, factual and uninspiring.

Well done Platial. Love your work.

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