Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Summary:Airbus takes off, Microsoft stays home and Marconi's at sea. And why are there no virtual kebab shops on the Holloway Road?

Monday 25/4/2005

At last! Google's most excellent online mapping system has made it across the Atlantic, and it is now possible to search for pizza delivery companies on the Isle of Skye. There are two. Lucky Skye.

However, this is of little interest to me. How about kebab shops on the Holloway Road? Google cogitates for a few seconds and reports back that there is none. As doner outlets line the Holloway Road like elms along a French boulevard, and as the thoroughfare also happens to contain London's finest shish emporium in the Crystal Charcoal Room — queues regularly form along the street — this is a damning indictment of the limitations of technology. Somewhat more accurately, if you ask the system to find Soho and then locate porn it comes back with a sparse list of ten possibilities, but with VNU Business Publications pleasingly spit-roasted between the Erotic Print Society and the Soho Original Video Shop.

These quirks aside, Google Maps has much to recommend it. It is a superb piece of programming — Web designers tend to emit small yelps of "Impossible!" when they see the map dragged across the screen — and if the user interface bods at Streetmap.co.uk or Multimap aren't already frantically hacking away then I'll eat my A to Z.

It's not beyond the bounds of possibility to see the same basic techniques being applied to other graphical applications of the sort previously thought to be outside the competencies of Web services — picture editing, project planning using large worksheets, even audio and video manipulation. These all use essentially static images that map into large data sets rather than spending their time actually moving the sets around. Could we see a mixing desk built out of Javascript and XML, working with sounds a thousand miles away? It would be an interesting project. Think global, act local never seemed so achievable.

Topics: Tech Industry

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Editor, ZDNet UK. Ex technology/technical editor of ZDNet UK, IT Week, PC Magazine, Computer Life, Mac User, Alfa Systems, Amstrad, Sinclair. Micronet 800, Marconi Space and Defence Systems, and a dodgy TV repair shop in the back streets of Plymouth. Can still swap out a gassy PL509 with the best of 'em.Dear Reader - contact me via our m... Full Bio

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