So, on Saturday morning after I tweeted about my world map of freedom of information law, Simone Puterman of BizCommunity sent me a cheeky DM via twitter challenging me to produce a similar map of Indian restaurants in Jo'burg.
Well I had a few idle minutes this afternoon so I whipped up a little webscrapper, scraped this information from the online EatOut guide and put it into into a Google Fusion table which did a pretty decent job of producing a map, not just of the Indian restaurants (or at least those which are produced searching for such cuisine on EatOut) but for the whole of Gauteng. There's a couple of unresolved addresses from the 40-odd that I grabbed which could be easily fixed manually for anyone who wants to collaborate on the table data which is here.
Total production time for this map +- 10 minutes.
A nice example, I think, of the power of Google Fusion.
So here you go Simone.
Geo-location, crowdsourcing, collaborative journalism... these are some of the buzz words of our business right now and it's quite an adventure getting your head into all of these trends and finding ways to apply them in every day journalism.
One of the most obviously useful applications is to create an interactive map where your readers can contribute information which has a geographic context. Say you wanted to map potholes in your community, or have a tool to report broken street lights and so on? This would be very useful.
Google Maps provides some powerful technology for online mapping and it's really easy to whip up a map illustrating a series of stories or an unfolding trend, but, unless you are a programmer, it can be a heck of a lot more difficult to create a map that your users can help build. The Google Map API is incredibly powerful but if, like me, you are not a programmer's bottom, you need to find other ways as a journalist to get things moving.