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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    MapMuse uncovers Tucson’s hot spots

    If you’ve ever yearned for interactive mapping technology to pinpoint the location of every locally owned coffee shop, post office or skate park in the country, MapMuse may soon beindulging that desire.

    Based out of Washington, D.C., MapMuse was developed in 2000 when creator Mike Pilon came up with an idea to construct a Web site to find things of interest more easily.

    “”I wanted to be able to type in a topic, like fine restaurants, and view all of the fine restaurants wherever I was, without having to know the name of a specific place,”” Pilon said.

    Additionally,
    Pilon said he will attempt to map every chain restaurant or corporation in the nation and create an area on the Web site where users can list their 10 favorite places as recommendations for tourists.

    With a background as well as experience in mapping, Pilon set to create MapMuse.com, which allows users to find almost every business or venue of interest in their town or state.

    An increasingly popular site, MapMuse.com now averages about 20,000 to 25,000 views a month, with a 10 percent increase each month, Pilon said.

    “”We started with a lot of niche interest,”” he said. “”We have a really active knitting community, for example, but we’ve expanded a lot in this last year.””

    The Web site is partially run by users, who send messages to MapMuse to notify the site of new places that may have just opened or closed.

    “”Our site is kind of like Wikipedia.com, except that we verify everything,”” Pilon said. “”Every once in a while we get a prankster adding goofy things to the site.””

    Using the yellow pages, MapMuse employees follow tips from users to make contact with local business owners for verification, then encourage those businesses or store managers to post information or pictures to the Web site.

    MapMuse sets itself apart from other mapping Web sites in that users can zoom out thousands of miles to find the locations of their favorite stores nationwide.

    But for 2007, Pilon and his four employees at MapMuse have a very ambitious goal: taking the Web site to the international level by creating digital maps of services in countries around the world.

    “”We already have maps of parts of Canada,”” Pilon said, “”and now the next step is to see if we can build maps of other countries.””

    Additionally, Pilon said he will attempt to map every chain restaurant or corporation in the nation and create an area on the Web site where users can list their 10 favorite places as recommendations for tourists.

    “”We are trying to make it more general-access,”” Pilon said. “”We want viewers to be able to build their own maps and create a list of their favorite places for others to see, within different towns.””

    Pilon said he thinks skate parks and tattoo shops may be among the most viewed by student users.

    Since June 12, when MapMuse began mapping skate parks across the nation, there have been more than 7,000 views within the category, Pilon said.

    But skate parks aren’t the only popular category. Pilon said he thinks viewers have taken a particular interest in independent book stores and coffee shops as well, and those views have likewise helped local business owners gain exposure.

    Trudy Mills, one of two owners of Antigone Books, 411 N. Fourth Ave., said that although she was not aware Antigone Books was listed on the site, the exposure has undoubtedly helped direct book lovers to her store.

    “”People probably use the Internet a lot when searching for us,”” Mills said, “”and any exposure is always helpful.””

    In its seven years of existence, MapMuse has joined the ranks of Web sites that make our lives increasingly easier. For Pilon, mapping has become much more than a hobby.

    “”Maps are a different metaphor to think about things, because you decide what level to look at,”” he said. “”A map is just a window to look at the world.””

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