Monday, October 20, 2008

Oh my gosh, it's like being immersed in the brochure online!

So this past weekend I had the opportunity to participate in my first non-conference, the WhereCamp PDX event held at Souk (Old Town Chinatown).

It's one of those completely collaborative events (again, never been to one before) where the first hour is spent putting giant post-ups on the wall to brainstorm on topics, ideas and anything else that might be of interest to the group. You can actually visit the schedule (and a map of Souk) here:

During the posting of ideas I volunteered one of my own (note that I am in a crowd of developers, coders, software engineers and that I was not overly comfortable nor confident in whether or not I had anything to add to this conversation). My Map, My Brand.

Simple, straightforward, but meant to not talk about me and SideStreet, but more about what is happening outside of Google Maps or whether or not everyone is relegated to Google Maps becoming the map brand... (all you graphic designers out there may as well start a new life).

So the conversation started off all over the board: discussing whether Google was a brand-neutral service or whether or not it over-shadowed the brand; why anyone would want to push branded content to the web; the cost-benefit analysis of any custom solution (including Google or Flash); the perceived need to require Geo-spatial accuracy and so on. Very educational to see what a simple topic could deliver!

But the point here came when a certain participant (let's call him Seeq) espoused his dependancy on Google Maps and Google Earth and that, at the end of the day, you needed to plug in a KML file to Google Earth to get data through that medium. (I was on a very steep learning curve here). When specifically asked about "branded content," Seeq commented that it held no value to him and that he was more focused on accuracy, immediate access to neighboring towns, destinations, etc.

At that point, another participant asked me to bring up an interactive map NOT of the Google kind:

Seeq looked at the screen and without hesitating exlaimed: "Oh man, I love this, it's like being immersed in the brochure!"

The silence that settled while we all reflected on Seeq's response was exquisite (for me). His emotions just overrode his functional processes in a millisecond in the recognition that he was going to experience something different (i.e. not Google Maps). Check it out and see the power of branded content and the influence on even the most adamant technologist.

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