Google lets users create own maps

Google Inc. is out to make map-making simpler, giving away tools for ordinary users to pinpoint locations, draw routes and attach photos or video to existing online maps, the company said on Wednesday. The web search leader, which set off an explosion of creative map-making among professional programmers after introducing Google Maps two years ago, is now offering MyMaps, tools for everyday users to create maps in a few mouse clicks. Let your imagination run wild, spatially speaking: Pinpoint your favorite restaurant locations. Return from a world tour and plot out landmarks along the way. Take photos from a recent hike and use MyMaps to illustrate locations along the trail. "Who better to create maps than local experts?" Jessica Lee, product manager for Google Maps, said in an interview. "MyMaps makes map-making universally accessible to anyone." Creators of custom maps can publish them so other users can find them when searching Google Maps. Users of Google Local search will now see relevant user-generated MyMaps show up in a special section along with traditional commercial results. Or they can choose to leave their MyMaps unlisted for personal use or to share with a select group of friends. See the new features by clicking on the MyMaps tab now available at Google Maps. MyMaps can also feature YouTube videos or other snippets of Web content in small windows that appear when a user clicks on pinpointed location. Anyone comfortable with the trick of adding small bits of hypertext code to a Web site or blog or MySpace profile can add video to MyMaps in just a few clicks. Feeling uninspired? Just search out an address on Google Maps and add MyMaps locations automatically to anyone of your existing maps by clicking the button that appears saying "Save to MyMaps." Instead of telling stories in chronological fashion using text or pictures, map-making this easy allows people to narrate their lives location-by-location. Lee describes how one Google employee recreated their resume on MyMaps, where each job or education entry was pinpointed by location. Leave it to a Google engineer to create a map featuring the locations where great computer languages were invented in recent decades. Another employee created a map of life around Google's Silicon Valley headquarters. Another more fanciful example charts monster sightings worldwide, from Godzilla to Dracula, Mummy, the Blob, King Kong and Bigfoot, Lee said. MyMaps is initially available in the United States and the national versions of Google in nine other countries including Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands and Spain. No responsibility can be taken for the content of external Internet sites.

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