Teaching Google Maps

[wikilike_img src=http://static.flickr.com/25/61152015_1fd7df3c5d_d.jpg|caption=Google Maps over Disneyland by Mike Brazil|url=http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=61152015&size=o|align=thumb tleft|width=300]

One of the IMD students, Mike Brazil, produced this simple Google Maps API Hack as part of exercise 1 for the mobile module of the course I am co-teaching with Tracy Fullerton, Perry Hoberman, Michael Naimark and Mark Bolas.

Why do I blog this? Every year the Interactive Media Division teaches “541” — an introduction to interactive media. It’s divided roughly into three modules, each one taught by professors whose stakes are in one of the three broad and overlapping research areas of games, immersive or mobile media. Lots of overlap, although many students come here thinking that they’re going to be commercial game designers, so games gets lots of love from the student corp. (By “games”, I mean the very pedestrian notion of console-based video games. No question about it. This is what they want to shell out close to $100k to become. Nutsss-oh.)

It becomes a bit of a professorial challenge to introduce a broader range of meaning to interactive media, beyond the console-based video games. For five weeks (1/3 of a 15 week quarter), Mark Bolas and I are teaching under the rubric of mobile media. We’ve backfilled that with locative media, cartography, and place-based narrative and liberally seasoned the mix with some concepts around “approaches to prototyping.” The Google Maps API hacking is meant to reveal some ways to quickly put together a cardboard cut-out for cartographic/mobile/locative projects. I think it’s working out well, insofar as the students got up and running fairly quickly with the API, a testament to its openness.

[wikilike_img src=http://static.flickr.com/31/61156497_a8667309e8_d.jpg|width=300|align=thumb tleft|caption=Middle Earth|url=http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=61156497&size=l&context=photostream]

The creative challenge here is to find ways to use the interface and the interactivity to create something that is richer than push-pins stuck in where you live and where work is? How do you tell compelling stories with maps? One of my favorite points-of-reference is the Middle Earth map Tolkien uses in his stories.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good game as next as the next fella, or gal. But, well..that’s all I have to say on that point right now, except to point out the wonderfully exceptionally orthogonal Cloud game recently produced by IMD students that would likely never make it to a console near you if it couldn’t guarantee a billion sold units during the holiday season.