Feb 25

Brady Forrest

Brady Forrest

CTO of Google Earth On Adding Web Search

Google Earth added web search last week by allowing users to find relevant KML files (Radar post). Directions Magazine has an informative interview with Google Earth CTO MIchael Jones posted.

Michael describes the search algorithm (a combination of text and geodata) and gives some thoughts on how the Google Earth Web Browser will lead to a geotagged web (hint, it's via KML).

DM: Might this be a way for all geo data to be found - both for advertising needs and for the sort of geodata search folks might currently do at GOS, etc? I'm thinking a small bit of KML in a page could make it geosearchable in a way "local searches" are not today. Could this be the answer to the old .geo idea?

MJ: yes, Yes, YES!

You are right on target with the "small bit of KML" comment.


If you want your county's fire plug Shape file to be findable on the WEB OF PAGES, you would have made an HTML reference page and decorated that with text that made searchers notice it when traversing your website, text that made it findable by web search tools like, and added a hyperlink on the page referencing the Shape-file collection.


Now, you have an additional choice. If you want your county's fire plug Shape file to be findable on the WEB OF PLACES (using an Earth browser such as Google Earth), then you make a KML reference placemark and load it's description with text so that searchers notice it when looking at the placemark (even when part of a collection), find it when using tools like Google Earth Search (aka KML Search), and you'd add a hyperlink in the description of the placemark that references the Shape-file collection.

This simple step of creating a KML placemark (and waiting for the next web crawl) is all you need to let every one of the 200+ million users of Google Earth who flies nearby and types "fire plug" into the search box find your KML and be presented with the hyperlink to the Shape file (and by extension, MapInfo TAB files, Autodesk formats, NITFs, etc., all based on desired audience.)

Note that it is the author's option to also convert the referenced data into KML too. They would do this if their goal is to have those who browse, search, and explore the planet using Google Earth see the results (such as the fire plug locations) right there in Google Earth. This is an option, but is separate from using what you correctly describe as a small bit of KML to make the original data discoverable. This is the application of the world's most popular search technique to the task of finding data on a geospatial, view- based basis - addressing in many ways the goals of GOS and SDI efforts both past and present.

(more after the jump)

Hopefully they will also eventually look for lightweight standards such as GeoRSS and the location relevant microformats (adr and geo). I really like that the interview ends with the affirmation that this is only the beginning of web integration in Google Earth.

DM: So this is part of Google larger search vision?

MJ: When I present a slide with the web browser on one side and Google Earth and Maps on the other, and say "everything you can do on the web of pages you will be able to do on the web of places (via a browser such as Google Maps or Google Earth)", the launch of KML Search is what has been on my mind as the most significant move in that direction.

The Google Earth and Maps teams work to geolocate all information and help users find that information geospatially. While users need both halves, the finding part is a core Google skill and one that is very useful even when what is found is not hosted at Google, as is famously the case with Google Web Search. The launch of Google KML Search initiates this Google Earth Search capability for all of the world's spatially organizable data.

tags: web 2.0  | comments: 5   | Sphere It

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Comments: 5

  Tim O'Reilly [02.25.07 07:53 AM]

This is BIG news. Why aren't more people jumping up and down?

  Sean Gillies [02.26.07 07:16 AM]

We are, but not so much in the comments of APB.

  Curtis Broadnax [06.22.07 01:52 AM]

A computer hacker posts what he claims is the ending of the seventh and final Harry Potter novel...

  Curtis Broadnax [06.22.07 01:53 AM]

A computer hacker posts what he claims is the ending of the seventh and final Harry Potter novel...

  J.O. From Urban MVP [10.09.07 02:39 PM]


I seen this already being implemented for spamming. Websites putting them selfs down on the Google Earth locations so they can rank higher for localized search. For example if your looking for something specific in your city like a movie theater you'd find movie review websites making posts when they in actually do not have any locations avialable where they marked themself down on the Google earth.

Although this is a great addition with the search there is always negatives and I hope Google keeps this in mind as they continue to make innovations.

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