I came to the United States in early 2002. I was a newcomer, without a car or an international drivers license and no credit history. I was lucky enough to be in a city with a good metro system, so I did not feel the pain as much as some others.
When I did manage to get my drivers license and a credit card, and was finally able to rent a car to drive, I found that the internet provided me with a quick easy way to get maps to go wherever I wanted to go.
I had two main choices Mapquest and Yahoo Maps. There were other options, but they were either not free or not popular. I loved the convenience of these tools. All you really needed was 2 zip codes and you could get maps to travel from one end of the country to the other. However, anything else, like a map of the location at various zoom levels or panning around, meant having to re-loading an image multiple times and that on a dial up line was painful.
Time passed and Google came along and changed everything with Google maps. Not only did they bring rich-client interactivity to the maps, they created and distributed an api built around their service. This quickly became the revolutionary tool. With the google api as their base, anything requiring location based data could be displayed in an entirely new way. Interesting ways to use the api have cropped up all over the internet. Here are some of them:
- Google Planimeter
- www.dudewheresmyusedcar.com (Bonus points for the movie reference in the title)
- If I dig a very deep hole, where I go to stop
- ATM Locator