Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Too much information!

When does the provision of additional information go into information overload?

When reading a book we may often wonder where in the world we are. What are all the places referred too in the book?

Those ‘smart’ kids at Google now want to offer maps in books. Imagine you are reading ‘Jack the Ripper’ and at a click can see the very street the dastardly crime took place, or in ‘War and Peace’ and you can see the location of the battlefield. Google has announced that it has begun integrating its mapping service with Google’s Book Search service to let users find references to places they find in books. The article in ‘Digit’ 29th January, reports that Google's Book Search now includes a feature called "Places mentioned in this book," offering maps from Google Maps with pins indicating places included in the text. Some book titles included are Jules Verne's "Around the World in Eighty Days", Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace" and Charles Sanford Terry's "Bach: A Biography".

"When our automatic techniques determine that there are a good number of quality locations from a book to show you, you'll find a map on the 'About this book' page," wrote David Petrou, a Google software engineer, in the official Book Search blog, on Thursday. "We hope this feature helps you plan your next trip, research an area for academic purposes, or visualize the haunts of your favorite fictional characters.”

Can you imagine looking at historic novel only to find the link points you to a satellite picture of today? There are appropriate maps, as found in some novels, guides etc and there is information for the sake of it. When does being smart go too far?