As part of the continual additions to Street View, Google has just added more university campuses around the world to the product, bringing the total number of Street View-able campuses to nearly 100.
Combine that with the fact that thousands of new 3D buildings are added to Google Earth each week, along with 3D trees in a growing number of cities, and you have some excellent tools at your disposal to help browse around your favorite college.
For example, below is Stanford University shown in Google Earth and Street View so you can compare the views:
Google has spotlighted a few other universities in a recent blog post and you can view the full list of Street View-enabled campuses on their site.
As good continues to add Street View at more schools, and schools continue to work on their 3D buildings, this kind of exploration will only get better!
Back in August, was announced the Beta for our Bing Maps WPF control. The uptake in the Microsoft Developer Community has been stellar and the feedback – immensely helpful. As a result and as promised to those across the Microsoft Developer Network, we’re officially releasing The Bing Maps Windows Presentation Foundation Control, Version 1.
The control was built atop of the beta, so we still have all of the touch enabled greatness for Surface v 2’s Pixel Sense, inertia and full rotation. We’ve kept most of the classes, methods and properties in place from the beta – requiring little work to install and register v1. And, per community feedback on the Bing Maps MSDN Forums we added the following features (and fixed a few bugs):
- Support for tile layers – you can now overlay your own tile layers atop the map control.
- Turning off the base tile layer – this is useful for when you don’t need/want to use our base map tiles and instead would prefer to use your own without overlaying them atop of ours. The control won’t request the tiles which reduces downloads and improves rendering performance.
- SSL Support – since many of you are using the WPF control in secure applications, you can now make tile and service request over SSL without issue.
- Hiding the scale bar – if you don’t want a scale bar (perhaps your map is small and the scale bar clutters the map) you can turn it off. In fact, the only elements you can’t turn off are the Bing logo and the copyrights.
- New copyright service – provides accurate copyright for our data vendors.
- Additional inertia – inertia is now enabled for the mouse and is on by default for touch.
- Miscellaneous bug fixes – thanks for the feedback on the MSDN Forums, the Bing Maps Blog, e-mail and Twitter. Good finds people.
I have to give it up for my (small) crack team of people involved in the making of the WPF Control. This was one of those 10% projects that we all really had a passion to get done because it was the right thing to do for the Microsoft Developer Community. So, we found the time, slipped the release a month (for quality) and, as the guys over in Surface said, “just got it done.” Our internal motto kept stoking the fire to push this bad boy out the door…”WPF, FTW!”
Now, download the Bing Maps WPF Control, build a killer app and make us proud.
This search for “Child Protection Services, NY” provides an obvious example of Google’s inability to target a specific ad against a specific place with their new Info Bubble Ads.
There is some irony that the Archdiocese of New York* is sandwiched between Children’s Rights and the NY Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Child in the Map search results and I suppose the bottom ad for a Child Protection Lawyer is somehow oddly relevant in this context.
But the ad for the Gay Church service shown against the Archdiocese manages to clearly demonstrate Google’s (lack of ) ability to target these ads correctly. It adds fuel to the already inappropriate fire that is the Bubble Ad… I never knew that the Adwords algo had such a twisted sense of humor.
In attempting to match a single ad to a single Place in Google Maps raises multiple issues…..
1)Certainly business (and churches & political organization for that matter) have a new arena where they need to worry about reputation management. They now have to think about “defending” themselves against ads from competitors or groups that disagree with their position….This drives ad growth and is likely to drive up bid prices for Google. While this occurs for all the wrong reasons I believe that they ones of which Google is likely aware. I had heard rumors in early September of Adword Account Reps instructing large Adword clients to take out ads in Google Maps in anticipation of this rollout.
2)The algo is incapable of correctly understanding which Places should have ads and which shouldn’t. This makes every Place in the virtual universe a target for an ad. Churches which are in theory a sanctuary from commercialism lose that… somber memorials become just another opportunity for a pitch.
3)Content that is abhorent or antithetical to the Place in real life can be associated with the Place virtually. The algo does not posses any ability to distinguish relevancy at a granular enough level to provide truly relevant ads that respect the intentions and aspirations of a given place. But worse, ads that are totally inappropriate by most human standards become acceptable.
4)At the end of the day, many of these ads are disrespectful of the user that made the effort to dive deeply into Google and find out more information about a given place.
There is the argument that the low visibility of the ad location somehow obviates the offense. My experience with Google Maps is that it is a testing ground for the big show. Single ads against single Places will migrate outward and upward if they are successful within Maps.
Like Facebook is pushing the limits of privacy in an effort to have none, Google is pushing the limits of ad display so that there are no societal limits on where or when ads can be displayed. Clearly breaking down societal mores that provide implicit boundaries to advertising is in Google’s best interest. I am not sure that it is the interest of either the general public nor the small business community.
*Note that I have no love lost on the Archdiocese of NY and they certainly have only themselves to blame for any problems that they have. That doesn’t deny my belief that they, and any church for that matter, should not have to worry about how Google uses their info bubble.
Should every place & business that exists in our everyday life be used to sell against? Should that specific, very real entity with its history of sentiment and purpose be leveraged to shill for something without their knowledge? And if so what is appropriate to sell against that place? I asked myself those questions as I explored some of the “bubble ads” that Google was showing in the info bubble for these Places.
When Google Adwords are shown against a full page of search results based on relevancy and various matching type, some of the quirks of the system are not obvious. However when an algo tries to position one ad against a single Place that exists in reality the limits of an algo based placement become more obvious. The lack of upfront human curation creates unpredictiable and oftimes odd outcomes. The results can easily pass from the mundane into tasteless very quickly.
The issue certainly affects small business as they find their competitors both local and national advertising against their good name. In this slide show you will see Google leveraging David Mihm and Andrew Shotland‘s reputation to highlight their own Adwords product as an alternative to either’s service (yea right).
But that annoyance felt by an SMB at Google’s ham handed selling pales when you see Google let someone selling against icons of American culture. A private, for profit tour positioned against the Statue of Liberty seems odd but one positioned against the 9/11 memorial seems downright macabre.
There is humor as well as you see the Obama campaign selling against the Whitehouse with a desire to live there another 4 years. The Yellowpages selling against a church certainly strikes an odd note. But that same humor turns black when you see abortion ads positioned against a Women’s Homeless Shelter or Health Clinic.
Obviously when the level of granularity gets down to the local business or place the foibles of this sort of advertising becomes painfully obvious. It reminds us all that we now live in a culture where every thing is for sale and every white space is ripe for an ad placement. Google’s info bubble ads that are now cluttering Google Maps give Maps the feel of those “park benches” that sit at smogged covered street corners with ads on their backs and facing into traffic. These effectively become the grafiti of our virtual world only they are not painted by rebel outsiders and they are paid for with real dollars. The ads manage to remind us that all too often that the value of humanity has been reduced to the value of the individuals’ “eyeballs” and their willingness to read the message.
Google has taken a technology that not that long ago reminded us of the wonder of online possibilities and defaced it in a way that has smacks of the billboards and signs that all too often covers the walls of public spaces and bombard our senses with commercial messaging at every turn. The only thing missing from Maps to complete its drive to mirror reality are the whiffs of the urine that all too often cover these same walls. Although I don’t doubt that Google would ad scents if there was a way to monetize them.
Obviously not all of you agree with my disdain for Google’s new efforts. But all of you can find the humor and spot the tasteless gaffs of this advertising method. If you find a particularly ironic, distasteful or inappropriate “Bubble Ad” kindly send along a screenshot for my “Rogues Gallery of Bad Bubble Ads”.
Click to view the slide show: