Thursday, October 08, 2009

My new favorite toy

I don't know how this escaped my attention until now, but today I discovered the completely awesome site Wikimapia.  It's like a geographic Wikipedia.  Doesn't Google Maps do basically the same thing?  Well, yes, but Wikimapia shows a lot more than you could ever see on Google Maps or Google Earth.  I've found all sorts of cool little places and things I've never known about just by browsing Wikimapia.  It seems to be very heavily used, which means it's comprehensive! 

It's fairly simple to use.  Search or browse a location, and then look for white lines outlining different things.  Mouse over a shape and it tells you what it is.  Click on it and you get more information, if any exists.  There are several different map viewing options under "Map Type" and the best one for me is "Satellite + old places," which shows many more places than the default.  You can also select different categories.  Icons pop up when this mode is selected.  It can get a bit confusing because the shapes are still on the map, but this could be useful if you're looking for certain types of places.

Adding places to the map is simple and easy.  Click the "Add Place" button, draw your shape around the building, then describe it and pick a category.  Click "Save" and you're done!  If your place is vetted by the community, it will appear permanently on the map. 

I found a very cool use for this earlier today:  combining it with Google Maps or Earth and the Street View.  You see, if you click on a place in Wikimapia, you will see the latitude and longitude of the place.  Copy it and punch it into the search on Google Maps and you'll be taken right there!  Then you can view the Street View of the place or see Panoramio photos. 

I'm really in love with this awesome tool.  I've added many places today.  If you see a place that isn't already on there, add it yourself!  The more you add, the better the map will become.  Wikimapia is good for exploring places online, researching trips or finding out what that crazy building is called.  Go check it out for yourself at

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