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TagMaps makes geo-tagging useful

Flickr + Maps in a cool new way: meet TagMaps, a new project from one of Yahoo's local Bay Area teams.

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TagMaps is an exploratory mashup/science project from Yahoo Research Berkeley that mixes Yahoo Maps with Flickr's geo-tagging features to create a neat-looking photo browser. Locations show up on the map as large tags, and mousing over one will populate the corresponding Flickr photos to the right. Clicking any of these photos will give you the title and photographer information, along with the option to visit the photo page on Flickr.

What's really cool is that you can toggle between day and night modes. Both the map and the photos change dramatically depending on which mode you're in. Photos are sorted by their time stamp, so there's no additional work needed to get them to show up on TagMaps besides tagging them on Flickr. The project is definitely a work in progress, as I was unable to get any night photos to display properly yet.

TagMaps also includes a service called Trip Explorer. It taps into Yahoo Travel's Trip Planner site to show you tags of interesting places to visit. Testing it out in Berkeley, California, I found it picked up mostly bars and restaurants. When I zoomed over to San Francisco, TagMaps showed me typical tourist destinations. Clicking any of them shows other items of interest nearby. I would like to see it give a quick snippet of information from Yahoo Travel, or at least have a way to easily find out more information without leaving the TagMaps interface.

You also have the option to add a TagMap to your blog or Web site, as I've done above. You can select any starting location, along with the zoom level. If you're the technical sort, you can even choose a spot by latitude and longitude.

TagMaps is a project with a lot of promise. It has the casual, exploratory feel you get from Google Maps, but it also mixes in a dash of visual appeal with the Flickr shots. I could easily see this becoming a mobile-phone app or surfacing on blogs and social-networking profiles.