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Bad data or bad mapping?

Google maps knows where the Space Needle is. Windows Live Local puts it four streets away from the tower at 203 6th Avenue North because that's the street address for the business. It also places the Seattle Center Space Needle about 300 yards to one side of the actual structure; that's the nearest building so it's probably where the official 400 Broad Street address actually is. I wonder if the exposure of mapping ites will make businesses think more about getting their address data right so customers can find them. The aerial view also labels the Space Needle structure (twice in fact; it does the same for both sides of the memorial stadium). That's a lot more information, and it's accurately represented, and the tools for seeing the bird's eye view, putting the details of the address in a pop-up box on the map and creating pushpins are easier to work with than the minimalist Google information in the search results (for me at least). The aerial view even has arrows for the direction of one-way streets.

And my usual complaint about Windows Live: all US all the time. If I search for London Eye, I get an eye clinic in Kentucky - and an advert for the South Bank. OneCare Live doesn't show up to anyone outside the US. I have no idea when non US applications will get to try Windows Live Mail. Guys: the Internet crosses national boundaries. The Internet business model isn't the only thing that matters here.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
ex_stevewpal562
8th Dec, 2005 22:03 (UTC)
Try entering "Space Needle" in the Where field in Windows Live Local. It will correctly identify the landmark in this case. Similarly if you enter "Space Needle, Seattle" in Google Maps it will offer 203 6th Ave as the first choice. This is down to the way both services make a distinction between landmarks and addresses as they attempt to interpret what you are looking for.
marypcb
8th Dec, 2005 22:23 (UTC)
In the Where rather than the What field? that's interesting. The What box gives me the 2 displaced pushpins for the business addresses; the Where gives me the landmark. Is a landmark that's also a building a Where or a What? To me it's a What - Seattle Center is probably a What to me. Bainbridge Island is a Where. Westlake Square is a Where, but the Westlake Centre is a What. And in typical lazy user fasion, if there are two boxes I'll start by typing into the first one.

Space needle in the search box of maps.google.com gives my first link; the landmark on the map. space needle, Seattle gives the list of businesses. I do like the always-integrated results of Windows Live Local a little better than the Google choice of map or results plus map, but it's interesting to automatically refine the interface based on the complexity of the search term rather than on the user's use of the interface.
ex_stevewpal562
8th Dec, 2005 22:29 (UTC)
Correct. Google is trying to be clever and anticipate what you're looking for by parsing the input. From talking to a Google engineer a while ago, this is an important design direction for them across all their products. It doesn't always get it right though but it is clear what they're trying to do and as long as they keep at it, I think they'll improve. Windows Live, on the other hand, is trying to address any potential ambiguity by making sure the user fills out the right input. This is also indicative of the design direction I've seen at Microsoft although I'm seeing evidence that both Office 12 and Vista are learning from Google's approach. Again, Windows Live it doesn't get the UI quite right since, as you say, the natural instinct is to type in the first box. Plus I agree that the labels are wrong. So they're not there yet.
marypcb
8th Dec, 2005 22:33 (UTC)
lazy user #2 - the labels didn't get enough of my attention for me to read the explanatory text underneath. Office 12 context is going to be interesting; the personalised mensu were such a bad implementation that I was surpised to see any contextualisation in the interface at all but it seems to be fixed and consistent. second guess the user or train the user...interesting contrast
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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