The open APIs supplied by free applications like Google Maps has spurred a wave of innovative developments. One of the most publicized examples of these "mash-ups" (as they are called) is www.housingmaps.com which mashes Craig's List content with Google Maps.
One of the more fascinating mash ups I came across recently (created by Rev Dan Catt at Geobloggers) is between Google Earth and Flikr. Google Earth is a fascinating application in its own right, but when you integrate data such as images from Flikr you start to see the true possibilities of the World Wide Web and open APIs.
With this mash up, you can not only view places from a satellite view, but you can actually see images from the ground level and even INSIDE buildings. Essentially, using Google Earth, you will be able to see any place in the world and view it from a perspective as high as the heavens or as low as an ant.
Other data that I would like to see someone try to integrate is Amazon's A9 search engine "BlockView" images which has street level images of major US cities. See if you can find the entrance to DigitalGrit's NYC "satellite" office here. Give up? The direct link to photo is here.
In addition to changing the layers of data you can see and the perspective, I suggest Google Earth include a slider button allowing the data to be shown by DATE. This would allow you to see how the World changes over time. Now, rather than just images, why not add video. Wow. This would be the closest we may ever get to creating an actual time machine! With the new "Google Time Machine" you could not only search the World's information. You could actually search time.
We are just at the beginnings of experiencing the true power of the Internet. Through collaboration and creativity, the best is yet to come. Please add your feedback or reference other "mash-ups" in our comment section.
Scott Delea - SEMC Council Co-Vice Chair