Earlier this year on our cross country roadtrip to Los Angeles, January and I kept friends and family updated on our progress with a custom Google Map. Along the way, whomever of us wasn't driving would fire up the laptop, tether it to our iPhone, and upload pictures to the server in order to update this map of our progress.
I'm really glad we took the time to do it, not only because it gave everyone a glimpse into our progress, but it was also great to be able to go back a year later and remember the journey. It was, however, kind of a pain to pull out the laptop, get it connected to the internet, upload photos over such a slow connection, and update the map manually on Google Map's web site. I still remember the first night, when we pulled into our hotel at 2 in the morning after driving for 12 hours straight, and sitting down for 20 minutes to update the map instead of crashing. Kind of inconvenient.
I've whipped up a little project that aims to streamline this process a little more: Tweet My Travel. It's a web site that I hope to open up to people who are going on long road trips like this, so that they can keep a sort of online journal of their trip. The idea is simple: After entering your travel dates on TweetMyTravel.com, the site keeps an eye on your Twitter account for updates that have GPS coordinates attached to them. Twitter recently released their new geotagging features to let Twitter users share their location, and more and more Twitter applications are supporting it. When Tweet My Travel sees a new update with an attached location, it will automatically add this location to your map along with the text from your update. I've had a couple of friends testing this out for me over the holiday weekend, and I think we're off to a good start. Here's a real life map generated by Tweet My Travel from my friends Jason's trip out to Virginia this weekend:
Now, as you can see, it's not nearly as polished as the first map. There are some bugs that need to be worked out, and that's where I'm hoping some of you will come in. If you're doing any sort of traveling over the next month or so, I want to hear from you. It doesn't require a lot, and I've outlined some of the details on the Tweet My Travel beta page, but I'd really like to see how people use this in real life to make sure this is going to be a useful and flexible option for people on the road who want to keep a record of their trip.
So, if you're doing any traveling in the coming month, or know heavey Twitter users who are, first read over the list of requirements on the beta page and then drop me a note. I think this could be a really cool tool for travelers who want to make road trips a little more social and enjoyable.