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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Judy’s Book + Google Maps

Comments (6)

My long time friend Andy Sack’s company Judy’s Book has just released “Judy’s Books Maps” (they claim to have had countless focus groups and thousands of hours of brainstorming to come up with the name for this new feature.)  It’s yet another great example of combining Google Maps with a “Web 2.0 service” (or whatever the hip phrase is this week).  Take a look at some of the reviews that I’ve done on Judy’s Book in Homer or in Boulder.  Andy and team are hard at work and ramping the features, functionality, and community around Judy’s Book quickly – join the party, do some reviews, and win some coffee or a free iPod Shuffle.

  • http://entengr.blogspot.com/ Jack Krupansky

    I’m not sure I understand the value here, but I tried it anyway.

    1) Why can’t the info be displayed in an automatic baloon popup when you “mouse over” a location?

    2) Why can’t I do normal scrolling and paging on the map? In other words, the mapping “feels clunky”. It just doesn’t seem ready for prime time commercial deployment.

    3) All of the businesses on Pearl Street in Boulder are clumped as one pin at the far east end of Pearl.

    3) L’Absinthe is downtown, but its map pin is placed north of North Boulder. Were you working on a pin for the “Bus Stop” and mislabeled it??

    4) The pins are frequently in the middle of the street, rather than indicating which side or corner a business is located.

    Are these mistakes because the mapping of businesses is done manually and very error prone, or are there some underlying technology flaws in the mapping of textual addresses to map coordinates?

    I remain unconvinced that this “mashup” approach to applications has any validity or is even close to being ready for prime time. Try again.

    Just to test this assertion… how much trouble is it to add photos for the businesses? For example, you walk up to the place or are sitting inside and you pull out your camera phone… how many steps are required before other user’s can see what you saw? Next… how much effort to add audio? The point or issue is how flexible and robust is the resulting application.

    – Jack Krupansky

  • http://www.zenoplanet.com John Berger

    Exactly! What value these maps really add? All these guys are doing is adding Google name to their site to hype it up. These maps neither provide a utility to users nor do they provide any competitive advantage. And I even question the quality of reviews they are posting since they are bribing users to post reviews instead of really coming up with a value proposition. Here is a site founded by a University of Washington MBA student and a software industry veteran of 10 years Joti Basi, called ZenoPlanet.com http://www.zenoplanet.com This guy is not only bootstrapping the startup but also powering it with the free flow of information. You may not find the fancy yet useless features such as Google Maps…but you will find genuine content. Way to go dude!

  • http://www.judysbook.com Gabe

    Thanks for the post Brad. I would like to respond to the comments that were left by Jack and John.

    In it’s current state, our new mapping feature is not intended to be a core feature of the Judy’s Book site, but is instead an additional, and I would argue, interesting view on the data. As we grow the feature, I believe it will become more useful. An example would be if you were looking for an auto repair shop. When you executed the search, we would return a map of top rated repair shops in your area. This is a feature that we already have in our core product, but I think is a very effective use of mapping. Being able to see the shops in your area helps you digest the information better than just reading addresses and trying to picture their location. Members benefit even more by being able to filter those results by connections in their social network.

    Another part of our mapping release was to put mini maps on the business pages. We have wanted to do so for a while, but most mapping services charge for this feature. When Google opened up their API, we jumped at it. It wasn’t to ‘add Google’s name to our site to hype it up’.

    To respond to some specific questions:

    1) Why can’t the info be displayed in an automatic baloon popup when you
    “mouse over” a location?

    It probably could be setup to do so, but the click behavior is in line with what Google does with their maps, and I didn’t want to change what those users were familiar with. Also, with a lot of pins, I don’t believe automatic popup would be effective.

    2) Why can’t I do normal scrolling and paging on the map? In other
    words, the mapping “feels clunky”. It just doesn’t seem ready for prime
    time commercial deployment.

    I’m not sure what is meant by ‘normal scrolling and paging’, but if that refers to using the keyboard to navigate the map, that does not come built in to the Google API. We can most likely script it to do so, but it was not a high priority feature.

    3) All of the businesses on Pearl Street in Boulder are clumped as one
    pin at the far east end of Pearl.
    3) L’Absinthe is downtown, but its map pin is placed north of North Boulder. Were you working on a pin for the “Bus Stop” and mislabeled it??
    4) The pins are frequently in the middle of the street, rather than indicating which side or corner a business is located.

    There are a number of factors that can cause pin placement to not be entirely accurate. Mapping is done by passing an address to a geocoding service, which then returns a latitude and longitude. We are only as accurate as the geocoding service that we use. We will shortly be changing which service we use and hope that will improve accuracy. Also, some of the addresses are user entered, which makes them prone to error. We also are working to eliminate the need for most user entered addresses. As far as why the pins are in the middle of the street, this is also related to the data we get back from the geocoding.

    Gabe
    Judy’s Book Development

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