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.