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"Current Location?"
photogeek
crschmidt
Current location is cool. I've wanted to upload it myself in various capacities for a long time.

But linking somethign that people will typically type in as free form to Google Maps is stupid. People will type 'Home', and linking that to google maps won't get you anywhere!

So, I went through and fixed my style so that the location would no longer be linked to Google maps, as well as reordering the 'currents' so that location would be on the bottom instead of the top.

So now, when I type 'Home" in my current location, it won't be displayed as "Maps.google.com/?q=Home" -- because it's not. It's home, in Cambridge. Of course, the rest of you will still see the links on your friends pages, but I've never optimized my journal for the users who are reading through friends pages: I've optimized it for *me*, and for my journal view pages.

I can see why this was done, but I think this is a case where the engineers (or engineer *cough* Brad *cough*) should have pulled in their usability person before pushing it live :p It's still a pretty cool little box, but I don't like to see it off to what I see as a negative start. Then again, is there much on LJ that I *don't* see as a negative start? ;)

Updated code is in Entry::print_metadata in my custom layer if anyone wants to crib it.
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The searches from the US for "Cambridge" actually do return "Cambridge, UK" -- I don't think that there's any location-based differences in the searching.

Although your points all apply. I really just think linking this to Google Maps by default was a poorly thought out idea. (This is not a surprise, since it seems as if it was tacked on at the last minute by Brad or someone else who thought "Ooh! Google maps! that's popular!")

In general, I like the "current location" box -- I probably won't use it except when I'm out and about, but that's relatively *often*. Also, note the variety of things that "Current Music" is used for -- everything from "The fan in the window" to a song title. "In the office", "In bed", etc. are all going to be things people will write, and it may actually prove useful in some cases.

But the "Linking to Google Maps" part is broken. However, for LJ features, that's pretty decent: I like the idea, and most of the implementation. That puts it above about 95% of the other features LJ has released. ;)

Like "usability" and "intuitive", "broken" is just an expression of personal dislike. Does it work the way it was designed? Of course it does. Why not try to put together some thoughts as to why it's worse for the whole userbase than not linking it?

1. With the current setup, there is no (non-hacky) way to use the text of the location on its own. This means that users do not have the ability to easily edit a style to do something interesting with the text.
2. Since the text is automatically turned into a link, users can not link it to something else of their choosing. For example, a role playing game might wish to link to a specific area of a non-earth based map, but this isn't possible, because the text is automatically linked. (Even with striptags, I don't think you'd end up being able to get what you wanted out of it.)
3. The lack of example input means that users will tend to enter content which is not designed to fit the Google Maps link. Similarly to Current Mood and Current Music, it is likely that users will treat the location as free form data, which, when linked to Google Maps, will not provide any useful results (and is much more likely to produce non-useful results, as in the case of "home").
4. Relatively few LiveJournal users are willing to give out information which can uniquely identify them online, much less information that could uniquely identify them in meatspace. The Google map link will prove useful only in the case where a user *is* willing to identify themselves in realspace (assuming that they get past the initial ignorance of how they need to enter data to do so). For any user who is not willing to give out this information, this link will not be useful -- and I would be willing to bet money that there is a much larger percentage of users who would not be willing to than would be willing to. (Hell, I publish my address online, I publish gps logs online, but I don't want to type my address into "Current Location".)

Linking to Google Maps is at the very least stifling the ability of users to creatively include content in the current location field that might otherwise be much more useful due to the inability to include non-text data in said field, and I still maintain that based on my (admittedly non-normal, but I think relatively educated by this point) knowledge of LiveJournal users, more often than not, the link is not going to provide any useful results.

I could be wrong. I often am. I just don't think that I really am, especially with respect to number 4 in the list above, and that is the biggest blocker in my opinion, and the reason I think that the Google Map link is less useful than free text.

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