Three quick reviews: The good, the bad and the ugly

  • Good: Rollnzoom is another entry in the crowded place annotation website field, but with a couple of things that set it apart. What’s innovative is that there are several ways in which you can add a placemark — by locating it on a map, by uploading KML, by copying and pasting a placemark from Google Earth or by copying a permalink URL from one of the major mapping services. Places are sorted by date, tag, group, user, latest and popular. The design is light and attractive, though you can only see individual places on maps or Google Earth, not collections of places.

    The other innovation in the placemark collection website field is not something that appeals to me per sé, though perhaps it does to others — it’s the social tools: You can rate others’ reviews of places, get friends, and get points for jumping through various hoops — very much like with social networking sites. (This is not for me as I abhor social networking sites. If anyone ever sees me join Orkut/LinkedIn/Facebook/Friendster/MySpace please shoot me. I mean it. If I get another invite I’ll be forced to launch — a social networking site with room for only one member.)

  • Bad: NAC Earth is a free Windows-only helper application for Google Earth that lets you navigate to short “universal addresses” (such as “H5Q2 R48Q” for the Eiffel Tower). I’ve never heard of the “Natural Area Coding” (NAC) system before, and I’m not sold on what the advantages might be over old-fashioned coordinates, but it appears to be a kind of tinyURL for places. People who want to geocode to NAC have to pay, though. Is anyone using this? Is there a point to this?
  • Ugly: On a virtual world there need not be any land scarcity — but that’s exactly what Mapisimo is trying to introduce to an instance of Google Maps, letting you “buy” parcels on a first-come first served basis. You get two for free if you register, and you can get more land by referring friends or by paying $2 per small square, of which there are 510 billion all over the planet. On your parcels, you get to write whatever graffitti you want, into a textbox.

    This is a pyramid scheme cum the million-dollar homepage. What a spectacularly bad deal for users. (Laughable press release, with the immortal lines: “Some experts agree that Mapisimo will soon turn into a virtual hangout like Second Life, but by utilising Google Earth this virtual world will be staged in a real world setting.”)

5 thoughts on “Three quick reviews: The good, the bad and the ugly”

  1. re: NAC, you dont have to pay to geocode, just to use theirs (which is actually M$ MapPoint). For example my website will convert any coordinate to a NAC, and I have a free webservice.

    I’m not totally sold on the idea, but in many cases they are more convenient than many Lat/Long coordinates during communication, simply from their shortness. But loose in that they are not very readable.

    Despite that their website says the idea is not that original, and is used in many guises around as a short coordinate form, in fact there are many implementations, and their is again talk of them been used again in GeoRSS type applications. (just without the apparent ‘closed’ implementation, even though the codes might be the same!)

  2. Barry, hi,

    I’m Andy, from the Mapisimo team. Thanks for taking the time to write on Mapisimo

    In one line you criticize us by saying that in a virtual world there need not be any scarcity, and in the other you say we are trying to “sell” as much as 510 billion of land parcels. Scarce or not?

    So far 99.9% of our users are enjoying Mapisimo without paying nothing, many having received more ownership rights by referring friends.

    Regarding the “pyramid scheme”, go ask the happy owners of the pyramids in egypt… (

    And if the squares are too little for you can try near the poles. Because of the map’s projection a single parcel can span a handful of screens.

    So far we are flattered by the welcome the internet community has given Mapisimo.

    And finally, we have two “always”. We will always give at least one parcel for free to newly registered users. And we will always be opened to criticism. Thanks for helping us prove the second point.

  3. In my opinion, if only one person can “own” the pyramids in Mapisimo, then you have created an artificial scarcity.

  4. it is not artificial scarcity, it is the very meaning of the verb “to own”. if you and me owned your house, would it still be called yours?

  5. As long as you’re talking about a real house or the real pyramids, I’ll agree with you.

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