Friday, September 14, 2007

Naver Local

In a previous post I talked about Korea's apparent isolationism in the online mapping community. For some reason Google or Yahoo provide map data for everybody but Korea and we're are stuck with the homegrown alternatives: Congnamul & Naver.

At first I was all about Congnamul. It looked prettier and had important things, like Starbucks, already iconified on the map. From a consumerist tourist's point of view it's incredible helpful; however after trying to deal with Mokpo specifics I'm starting to swing back towards Naver, largely thanks to Naver Local.

The Paradigm Shift

I automatically plug in street addresses for any mapping systems but, here in Korea, only the losers in the post office use street addresses; real Mokponians remember locations by their names. In fact the whole notion of street address is still a fairly fresh idea in this relatively small city;. Luckily the folks at Naver handle both. Take, for example again, everybody's favorite high school where we can use:

  1. 전남제일고등학교
  2. 전라남도 목포시 용당동 937-1 번지
as the map's input. Both will get you this map but the location name will snag you the bonus of an entry in the Naver Local directory (which usually includes the phone number, embedded map, and other tidbits of useful information). Before I favoured Congnamul over Naver because Congnamul allowed you to link to maps but Naver Local's information is linkable and completely surpasses that of Congnamul.

Channy Yun Revisited

This too was previously mentioned, but I'm digging his magic enough to post about it again: Channy Yun is the guy who did the Naver & Google Map Mashup that gives you the Naver street map on top of the Google satellite view. I used this for my school maps and it really helped. The only problem to the site is that lacks any of Naver's search functionality. I had to scroll around, zoom in, and find the school myself.

I can make up for the Mashup's short comings by taking advantage of the its usage of Naver's coordinate system. Using the example of 에베레스트 (our favorite Nepalese restaurant in Seoul) we first find the Naver Local entry and get the Naver Map map url: x=31296500 & y=55271800 & title=Everest
We cull the X & Y parameters from the url (removing, for some reason, the last two digits) and create our own Mashup link. x=312965 & y=552718 & title=Everest & z=2
Giving us the all of the business information, maps, and satellite imagery that complete strangers would need to find the restaurant.

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