I already linked to Tagzania a few days ago — this proudly Basque outfit lets you collect, title, describe, tag, save, edit and copy points of interest (henceforth called POIs) using Google Maps. You can use Tagzania’s own incredibly clean binary list/map interface to do all this, or you can use a personalized bookmarklet in Google Maps to add POIs to your personal collection.
That’s just the start. All these POIs are shared, and you can view them by author or by tag, on a Google Map or as a list. And each author and tag collection has its own RSS feed, to which anyone can subscribe. Update your POI collection and the feed instantly reflects this.
Now for the clincher: Given that geotagged RSS is practically an XSLT transformation away from KML, I asked Tagzania today if they were considering outputting these feeds as dynamic network links for Google Earth. The answer came three hours later, in the form of a KML badge next to the RSS badge. It works perfectly.
Wow. This has turned into quite a day for adding functionality to Google Earth.
How is this better than Virtual Earth’s scratch pad? Let us count the ways. The scratch pad only lets you save businesses you’ve found via Virtual Earth’s search. Tagzania lets you save any POI whatsoever, and let’s you edit it, tag it and share it via RSS and KML. You can access your POIs at all times from any computer connected to the internet. This means that if you spend 4 hours at work marking all the best beaches in Greece, you can inspect them further with Google Earth when you get home, which will gladly fly you from island to island.
Anyone can now create their own personalized sightseeing site in Google Maps, and it will be viewable in Google Earth. Groups of people can collaborate on projects by using common tags. Friends can instantly mark and share tips for shopping. Geography teachers can make lesson plans and share them with a class of Google Earth-browsing students. The possibilities are very broad indeed.
(What about spamming? Tag-based feeds are spammable, as far as I can tell, but user collections should be immune, as long as you subscribe to people you trust. How does Flickr guard against tagspam?)
[Update 08:05 UTC 2005-07-27: Because I cannot tell a lie, and because I don’t want to take credit for other people’s ideas:
Me in an email:
> Did you really do that in three hours, or had you been working on it before:-)?
No. It was almost ready from day 1, july 20th, just some bugs detected in the performace in Google Earth. Once we corrected them, we made it public yesterday. As a matter of fact, we did it *before* your msg reached us… But, well, the story at your blog is just too good to change that with the truth now:-)]