When Google, or any other service for that matter, launches a new product it is almost never immediately clear how useful the product can really be. That was also the case with Streetview. Yes, it was a very nice feature and you could actually see your own house if you were lucky (in my case even my car could be found). But the real use? With the open web, the real use of a product usually becomes clearer when others adopt a product to start using it for their own purposes. The integration of different products makes that a product all of a sudden makes sense.
Now there is already a lot of ‘sense’ in Streetview, but Historypin is one of these features which gives that little extra touch. This Google Maps Mash up in my opinion is something which could be very usefull in for example history lessons at schools.
As some of you might know, originally I’m a trained history-teacher so if something historic comes by I’m immediately triggered. And this mash up brings together several elements of my background: the web, search (Google), history and teaching.
Historypin has a very simple take: you have a (Google) Map and you can place pins on places where you can add your own historical pictures. So as a viewer you can see historical pictures of places all around the world. But then the fun starts. You can actually see these pictures integrated within Google Streetview. The pictures show up on top of the current Streetview pictures giving you an insight in how the area looked back when the historical picture was taken. And it has historical data and stories next to it. Take a look yourself:
So how can this be used? In different ways I would say. First of all there is the teaching element. This makes it much more easier for students to actually get a feeling of how a specific area used to be. With the combined data History Pin this can really be a online history book without borders.
Second there can also be a marketing element to it. Especcialy for those companies with an historical background or those situated within a historical building. Using this and intergrating it on your site will not only get you more findability within Google, it will also get you a lot of goodwill with your clients.
One look at the History Pin map shows that although there are already thousends of pictures in there it does need a lot more data to make it valuable. So that is the next step which has to be taken, get the historical data in there. And I would love to see a combination of History Pin and Bing’s Photosynth. But I guess that is not going to happen… Still, History Pin is worth the bookmark!