Mapping and Geolocation Tools

I spent WAY too much time exploring Google Earth’s new functions this Thursday. They’re interesting and can keep you looking and searching for hours (unfortunately). I wasn’t entirely thrilled by the new tours, but it’s going to take thousands (millions, more likely) more photos for them to do what I suspect lots of us are hoping for, which is something much more like real video.

In my book, the best views are still the flyovers, with the U.S. city street views as a close second. (I can see how folks who have smartphones that can go online like the maps aps. In cities I probably would, too. But I’ve always enjoyed the exploring that happens when I get lost – which I often do.) Street views outside of major cities and especially outside the U.S. don’t work as well or at all and aren’t likely to because the necessary photos aren’t online. I wanted to check out some areas in Costa Rica, as my son is considering retiring there, but there just aren’t enough photos posted to make it happen

Tours of the landmarks I explored are a disappointment if you want anything more than a street view. There are lots of photos of the Sistine Chapel, for example, but nothing that I could find worked like an inside tour, which is what I was hoping for.

I spent some time on HistoryPin, WhatWasThere, and Sepiatown, looking for photos of Chicago’s East Side neighborhood (where the infamous anti-union street massacre occurred) from earliest date possible through about 1970. I found some I can use (they are for a poetry ms by a friend of mine, recently deceased, whose memorial website I manage – if you’re interested, go to but am still looking for photos of the Cal Park Beaches and the Calumet Forest Preserve, and also am looking for artists’ drawings of the Calumet River and swamp area pre-settlement. I had hope for LOTS more old photos – again, the problem is the photo supply, not the technology.

I looked at the tools for teachers – lots of possibilities here for classrooms and programs and book clubs and so on. I can see using our laptop and projector to give a tour along with some recommended books at one of our programs at the Senior Center this summer, too.

I signed the library up for LibraryThing and am posting events there, starting with Teen Volunteer Training. Still trying to figure out how to automatically link each post to Facebook and Twitter.


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