Photo Karma – Pier 39

Sea Lions at Pier 39

I got an email a few days ago informing me that the above photo was short listed for inclusion in the Schmap: California Guide, second edition. Well, I was unaware that there was a first edition – but how cool is that!? So I followed the link to approve my photo for inclusion, if selected, and then browsed around a bit.

This is one of those web 2.0/social media/mashup things that genuinely seems useful. Schmap is an interactive travel guide that you can either use online or download to your computer. Instead of checking out (or, heaven forbid buying!) a travel guide, this seems like a great place to start. The site gives at-a-glance descriptions of recommended events, tourist locations, neighborhood information and places to eat/stay/etc. If you’re really the type who gets deep into the planning process, this probably isn’t the site for you. But if you are planning a day trip, or like to wing it, this would be the perfect place to cherrypick some quick recommendations or find just enough information to get yourself lost, in trouble or arrested.

Most of what the Schmap guides use is freely available web and user submitted content. They apparently scour flickr for photos licensed under Creative Commons and use Yahoo!’s maps and API for location-based finding. The write-ups seem to come a service called Wcities and the advertising in unobtrusive.

Did I mention it’s free? Give it a try.

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