Google Book Search, Google Maps Team Up
It's an all-too-common problem: you're reading War and Peace when the name "Vyzama" stops you dead in your tracks; you simply can't continue with the novel until you know where this Russian town is located. Google Book Search and Google Maps are now teaming up to render such problems obsolete.
All right, so maybe War and Peace isn't the kind of book that anyone's likely to pick up in his day-to-day life. Nonetheless, Google has you covered, and software engineer David Petrou explained how in a post at the Inside Google Book Search blog.
"Our team has begun to animate the static information found in books by organizing a sample of locations from them on an interactive Google Map, with snippets of text from the book, and links to the actual pages where the locations are mentioned," he wrote. "When our automatic techniques determine that there are a good number of quality locations from a book to show you, you'll find a map on the 'About this book' page."
In some cases, the idea translates into a pretty neat picture. On this page, for example, you can see how the fictional Phileas Fogg managed to travel around the world in 80 days. In other instances, it doesn't work out quite as well - certain regions of the map for The 9/11 Commission Report are swarming with red balloons.
There are also the phrases "begun to animate" and "good number of quality locations" to consider. I wasn't able to find a map for any book other than the examples Petrou provided, so hopefully the team will either pick up the pace or widen their definitions.
Still, making Google Maps and Google Book Search work together is an interesting idea. The company's software engineer promised, "Fact, fiction, old, and new - we seek to present maps when helpful across all kinds of books."
Tag: Google Book Search, Google Maps
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