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How do I use...Google Maps?

How do I use...Google Maps?

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Published by lnahmias
This section describes how small cultural heritage organizations might use Google Maps to make a more compelling web presence.

To read the entire handbook, see the "Workshop Materials" section of http://publichumanitiestoolbox.wordpress.com.
This section describes how small cultural heritage organizations might use Google Maps to make a more compelling web presence.

To read the entire handbook, see the "Workshop Materials" section of http://publichumanitiestoolbox.wordpress.com.

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Published by: lnahmias on Mar 31, 2009
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05/10/2014

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How do I use…Google Maps?
Many people are already familiar with Google Maps if they have ever searched for a place in Google and had itreturn an address and a map. They may have also used Google Maps to get driving directions. However, inspring 2007, Google Maps added a new feature, “My Maps,” (www.maps.google.com
 
) that allows users tocreate and share their own maps. This section will discuss the My Maps feature and how it was used in theUncovering Westport project.
What can it do for you?
My Maps allows anyone who has registered for a free account with Google to create a map showing points of interest organized around a theme. An historical society can create maps to show where the locations of historicsites. One can create different maps for different aspects of a place’s history, which is what we did inUncovering Westport. We selected themes suggested by the 2006 Archaeological Survey such as “agriculture,”“resorts and tourism,” and “mill sites” (see Figure 7).Other organizational strategies might include creating different maps illustrating a particular moment in time(i.e., “Revolutionary War Westport” or “19
th
Century”) or the experiences of a particular race, class, or gender (“19
th
Century Immigrants in Providence,” or “Jim Crow Charlotte”). Another exciting possibility is creating amap drawn from the oral history testimony of an individual, mapping out the sites she or he describes in aninterview.Each map is essentially a different “layer” of markers. Different layers can be viewed separately or concurrently. Showing different themes at the same time can lead to insights about the relationship betweencommunities, individuals, and the environment. The points on the map can be described in captions andillustrated with historical maps or photographs (see Figure 8). One can also provide links to articles that further describe the site, its past or present uses, or its restoration.
Figure 7: Westport's Agricultural Activities Map in Google Maps
 
Google’s My Maps is the option we used andrecommend. It is free to start an account and very easyto add and edit content. Once you have created a public map, it is available for any user exploring the areato find, not just users guided directly from your main page or with a direct URL. Further, mostusers will already be familiar with Google Maps.
 How do users interact with it?
Users can manipulate your maps in several ways. The basic feature is the ability to click on the icon thatmarks a place and have it open up a dialogue boxwith a caption, image, link, or some combinationof the three. As explained earlier, an image in thedialogue box can be linked to a photostream in Flickr so that the user is directed there when she or he clicks onthe image.The other basic interaction that will already be familiar to most users is the ability to zoom in and out and tomove about the map. This interactive activity can be performed in Map, Satellite, or Terrain mode. Dependingon the site you have selected, you may recommend to users that they view it in one mode or the other. For instance, the satellite view of Westport Factory shows the remains of an old amusement park and its largewooden roller coaster. A marker in Map mode would not indicate the actual lay of the land of the site; in thiscase, the satellite version can help the user make the connection between past and present uses of the site.Figure 9 shows a comparison between the same view in Map and Satellite modes.Terrain mode can also help the user visualize the natural features, such as streams or elevation, of a place thatare important in interpreting past uses, like the placement of a gristmill by a stream or windmill on a rise, thatwould not occur to modern visitors.In addition to changing the viewing mode and zooming in and out of the map, viewers can decide which layersor maps to display. As we mentioned earlier, each map you create is essentially a different layer that can bedisplayed individually or with other maps. In our case, “Resorts and Tourism” and “1938 Hurricane Damage”are two separate maps or layers. By displaying both maps at the same time, one gets a sense of the terribledamage wrought by the hurricane of 1938 on Westport’s beach community (see Figure 10). Conversely, if onewere to view “1938 Hurricane Damage” and “Historic Mill Sites” at the same time, one would conclude that the
Figure 8: Westport Factory Mill Site DetailFigure 9: Satellite vs. Map view of Lincoln Park, showing rollercoaster in satellite mode.
 
hurricane did not significantly impact Westport industry.
Figure 10: Westport's Resorts and Tourism and Hurricane Damage maps viewed concurrently. Purple markers indicatehurricane damage.
For Uncovering Westport, we also set up all photos associated with points on the maps as links to the Flickr  page (see below). Doing so enables users to click on the image and be taken to a larger view of the image. Onthe Flickr page they can post comments on an individual image or the site it depicts and share their memories of the site. This feature has the added advantage of directing users who may have discovered the map on their ownto find your organization’s other photo collections and learn more about your community.
 How do you do it?
Setting up an account and creating maps is very simple, though it may betime consuming. The directions for how to set up an account and tocreate maps are explained on the Google My Maps Help section(http://maps.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=68480
 
). Thissection borrows heavily from Google’s explanation.
1.Create an account.
2.
Select the My Maps tab, then the “Create New Map” link.
On the left hand side of the map, you will see a place to name anddescribe your map. (See Figure 11)
3.Choose a title for your map.
Choose a title that describes simply the main theme or content of the map. Because public maps are available toanyone searching in Google Maps, your title should help unfamiliar seekers quickly know what they arelooking at.
4.Add a description of your map.
Here is where you can describe in more detail the theme or contents of the map, the sources you used tocreate it, and the ways that you intend the public to use it. If you anticipate that new Google Maps userswill view your map, you may also want to explain the features (such as clicking on the icons or clickingon photos to see a larger image).
Figure 11: Create, name, and describeyour map.

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