Wednesday, March 26, 2008
As a geographer, I have a bias toward mapping applications that relate to Web 2.0 and Travel 2.0. So even though I get a lot of links to Travel 2.0 websites in my inbox, and even though I really should be reading student term papers right now, I did mention this new site (still in beta), in part because of its simplicity and mostly because of it potential usefulness for travelers in the US.
HappyMappy.com is a map of tourist attractions in the US. (Sorry, rest of the world.) Attractions include: "history, arts, recreation, nature, science, parks, sports, theater, concerts, nightlife & activities." It is basically a mash-up of Google Maps and Yahoo! Local, with some added information and functionality. At each zoom level HappyMappy will show up to 100 of the most popular attractions. It is unclear just how popularity is determined.
Checking the attractions around Flagstaff, Arizona, I found the results to be quite comprehensive, and there were a couple of items listed that I was personally not aware of. It was not perfect, however, as it included a couple of motels (not really tourist attractions) and places on the Northern Arizona University campus that I thought were a bit questionable. For example, the Du Bois Center is tagged with: Concert Entertainment Live Entertainment Live Music Music Nightlife Venue. However, it is mostly a food outlet for students and a conference center with meeting rooms and an auditorium that may, on a very infrequent occasion, have some evening event that is open to the public. In addition, as student recreation center is listed that is not open to the public.
In addition, downtown Flagstaff, especially on Route 66 (US Highway 89/180), has a lot of tourist arts/gifts/souvenir shops, but only a couple are listed. And I wonder how well they will be able to keep this information current given the relatively high business turnover in this sector. Finally, urban districts and scenic landscapes are attractions, as well. But these do not show up on the HappyMappy maps. While it might be possible to identify downtown Flagstaff as a tourism hot spot, based on the large number of pin points there, the historic hotels along Route 66 as not so well identifiable.
Also, I was not able to save my points of interest and maps either in Firefox 3 (beta) or on IE 7 after I registered on the site. I would think this kind of problem would be mostly resolved in a beta release, but I guess not this time.
HappyMappy reminds me of VeniVidiWiki.eu - which is a pin map showing links to tourist attractions around the world, but which also emphasizes videos and photos more, and text descriptions of the attractions less than does HappyMappy. VeniVidiWiki also allows users to add additional sites to their database, though there is no social networking related to that. And there is also Simpatigo.com which links the attractions to an itinerary route -- though that makes it more complicated, as well. I covered VeniVidiWiki.eu before here and Simpatigo.com before here.