I’ve been experimenting with Google Notebook today at work, and I found it to be immediately useful in ways that complement my other web tools. (I’m a big user of and believer in data portability tools — I use .Mac, Basecamp, Backpack, Foxmarks (for shared bookmarks), Google Calendar, GMail and NewsGator (for shared RSS).)
It’s tempting, whenever Google introduces a new service, to add it to the grid of mashable services and see which squares haven’t been filled in yet. It can lead to formulaic blogging, and I’m guilty of it just yesterday (suggesting a mash-up of Google Trends and Google Earth.)
Having just said that, I’m now going to repeat the crime: If you can annotate the web with Notebook, why not use it to annotate Google Earth? Ah, you might reply, you can already do that, by adding placemarks. But that would be committing a category error, because placemarks are like network links, overlays or 3D objects — content published to Google Earth — and hence themselves something to be annotated, just like all content published to the web.
So imagine this scenario: In Google Earth, you find an interesting piece of architecture via the 3D Warehouse network link, so you right-click on it and choose “Note this (Google Notebook)”. Using Google’s built-in (PC only) web browser, Notebook shows you a georeferenced link to the model, and lets you add your notes. Later, you find a border or place name you want to annotate. Again, just right-click on it and comment away.
If you make your notes public, turning them into a web page, others can read your log, with links to Google Earth that recreate what you found. This has the added benefit of bringing more people into Google Earth who might otherwise not have ventured off the web.