Google acquires Jotspot – It’s free now!

Business,Products,Search by on October 31, 2006 at 1:20 pm

Garret Rogers picked up that Jotspot has been acquired by Google. Also on the jotspot homepage was an announcement that the service would become free at the end of the month.

I have been a longtime fan of internal wikis in general and Jotspot in particular, having introduced its use at Judy’s Book. I was deeply disappointed with Jot’s pricing model - basically they charged based on the number of pages you had created. We were faced at having to upgrade from 300 ($30 a month) to 1000 pages ($80 a month) This resulted in perverse incentives: you wanted to consolidate / delete pages that had reduced utility. The result of this was that the wiki in general had reduced utility. I was contemplating taking our company off of Jot and moving them to our own wiki and this is welcome news.

In addition to a compelling product, Google also picks up a strong team: Joe Kraus and Graham Spencer (co-founders of Excite), and Ken Norton formerly Director of PM at Yahoo Search.

On the rumor side of the deal, rumors had swirled awhile back that Yahoo had bought Jot. Clearly this didn’t come to pass and the fit definitely feels better at Google - I am curious though what happened with Yahoo. Jot reportedly built most of their initial service using outsourced development, but this isn’t something I’ve verified - only something I heard discussed in startup circles.

I found it interesting that Jot had closed to new accounts. Whenever Google acquires a company, tens of thousands (possibly more) of Google fans go to sign up for the service. Especially when the service goes from paid to free. Most startups companies, just aren’t prepared to handle this kind of deluge (remember what happened to Urchin). In time, Google will help Jot deploy on Google infrastructure, but until then Google needs to keep the doors shut (at least partially) to avoid taking the entire system down.

Congrats to the Jot team, and to Google - it is a nice acquisition.

What online mapping service has the latest data?

Products,Search by on October 9, 2006 at 5:08 pm

I had long assumed that all mapping services were based on the same data since there are only two providers in the market (Navteq & Teleatlas). In fact, all 4 major services (Google, Yahoo, Mapquest & Microsoft), use Navteq data solely for their street maps.

Since the 4 services all use the same data source, I just need to find evidence on one of the services of new road construction that isn’t evident on the others. That source would have the most current maps. There is a great discussion of mapping in general and online mapping services in particular on this great blog that details how maps get created, updated etc. Apparently Phoenix maps had 4000 changes in the last year. Seems like a good city to test with. I dug up the AZCentral article mentioned in the Map Room blog, and learned that Chandler Arizona is a high growth area in Phoenix. A little bit of browsing around Chandler, and I found my first discrepancy: S. Gardner Dr.

Street Maps
  1. Yahoo: Yahoo appears to be 1 or 2 quarters more current the the other mapping services. Using Phoenix as an example, this probably equates to ~1K to 2K changes.
  2. Google, Mapquest & All of these three services are running the same versions of the Navteq data (at least as far as I can tell). I was able to see the new road in Google’s satellite map (making that more current than the street data). Both Mapquest and recently updated their mapping services. Mapquest launched a much more user friendly version of their mapping services a week ago and up until a few weeks ago, showed a Navteq copyright of 2005.
I believe that the currency of the mapping data is largely an indicator of operational excellence (which is why I’m surprised that Google isn’t at parity with Yahoo). Everyone is likely paying for the same data. Yahoo is just quicker at getting the most recent data live on the web.

The Best:

Yahoo Map

The Rest:

Google Map Mapquest Map Map

Map APIs

The most recent data available via API in rank order:
  1. Yahoo: uses the same data (Navteq) as their website. This is currently the latest and greatest map data available on the 4 major sites.
  2. Google: uses Teleatlas for their API data. That means that Google delivers lower quality mapping data to API users than they make available on There is a good discussion on O’Reilly’s blog about Navteq and Teleatlas data, and what is made available through the Google APIs. There is also a good FAQ on the Teleatlas site. It appears that it is pretty clear that the Google APIs provide the lower quality Teleatlas data.
I didn’t investigate what if any APIs are available from or I didn’t comment on the features or overall quality of the Yahoo or Google APIs. The O’Reilly post lightly touches on this topic and indicates that the Yahoo API is very basic, while Google’s is more fully functional.

Google Maps API presents outdated maps

Products,Search by on August 4, 2006 at 9:20 pm

Our users at Judy’s Book often suggest corrections for the businesses that they have reviewed. One user pointed out that our map showing the location of a business showed an old location. The area around the coffee shop was new and new roads had been built.

I was surprised to find an entirely different map when I checked the same address on Google Maps. Not only were there new roads, there were new parks, schools and other buildings. Take a look at the differences:

Map retreived from Google Maps API (for a coffee shop on Judy’s Book)

Google API Map

Current Google Map

Current map on Google Maps

Is this driven by licensing requirements, technical considerations or just poor product planning? I wonder if the Yahoo maps API does the same thing?


I asked this question on Google Answers, and Google took it down! Here is the question and their response:

Why does Google Maps API show outdated maps?

I recently discovered that they show different maps through their API than they show on their website. In fact, it looks like they show older maps through their API.

You can see several screenshots here: Why does Google do this? Is it due to license restrictions from their data providers, some intentional dithering (GPS anyone), or something else? Does yahoo do the same with their maps api?
Their response:
Thank you for your question ID 755934, titled “Google Maps.” We’ve removed your question because you can find the answer on our main site, free of charge. All publicly available information about Google is available at:

For additional questions about Google, please visit:

Thank you for your interest in Google Answers. Please visit us again.


The Google Answers Team
OK, so they took down the question. Pretty weak. I searched pretty hard and couldn’t find the answer on their site. I guess I’ll try on Yahoo Answers.


I asked the question on Yahoo Answers and received a bunch of useless responses. For those that are interested, you can find it here: Yahoo Answers Responses. Shortly after my question expired, I received a really helpful email from a user (possible Yahoo employee?). Here is the response below:
From: ab

Subject: Why does Google have outdated maps?

Message: Some useful information, since your question is no longer open for answering.

Basically, Tele Atlas must’ve offered better terms on using their map data on the API than Navteq did to Google. Within the industry, Navteq is considered to have better data; they’re also a tougher negotiator. When map data is made available via an API, the data companies expect much more compensation for its use, as it may replace opportunities to resell that data elsewhere.

Yahoo! prodominately use Navteq data on their beta consumer maps offering and APIs - the tiles are being
pulled from the same servers. As of a week ago, 2nd quarter Navteq data - the latest - is being served.
(I helped put it out on the server; that’s why I know :) ).
Google uses 1st Quarter Navteq data on their consumer maps, who knows on their API.

Check out


I hope this helps.
Wow, pretty interesting. I somehow assumed that since Google/Yahoo/MSN/Mapquest were all using data from the same providers that they would have equivalent quality. The email above seems to assert that Google is being ?cheap? and not delivering the highest quality data possible. I’m going to dig into this more.

Am I that predictable?

Products by on May 15, 2006 at 6:54 pm

Amazon’s “Customers who bought X, also bought Y” is scary good.

I was testing the zoundry blog posting service, and trialled it by writing a review of Moneyball. On the Amazon page, the “Customers who bought Moneyball, also bought:
  • Bringing Down the House (friends from MIT, great story)
  • Freakonomics (just read it, loved it)
  • Liar’s Poker (great look at Wall Street - great read)
  • Tipping Point (great book)
  • Blink (want to read it)
I never considered myself to have a “complicated” character, I just didn’t know that I was that predictable.

Drivetastic & Filephile

Products,Search by on March 9, 2006 at 12:42 pm

Garrett Rogers of Googling Google, points out that Google has a relationship with Mark Monitor for the registration of its domains. Mark Monitor further has a relationship with Data Docket, a company that holds many domains that may be indicators of Google services to come (that do not contain the Google name).

A lot of noise has been made about Google’s upcoming gDrive service, as well as their Pagetastic service. The pagetastic domain is hosted on a network range owned by Google (despite the fact that DataDocket has the domain registered). A few searches across other IPs in that range reveals these domains also owned by Google:, Kind of cool names. I wonder if they’ll be used instead of the name Gdrive?

3/27/07 Update:

I was reading Philipp Lenssen’s post on a Gdrive wishlist reminded me of this post. I did a bit of research and confirmed that Google still owns these domains. The current registrant is:
DNStination, Inc.
45 Fremont St.
Suite 1400
San Francisco

Domain Name:

Registrar Name:
Registrar Whois:
Registrar Homepage:

Administrative Contact:
domain admin
DNStination, Inc.
45 Fremont St.
Suite 1400
San Francisco
Fax- +1.2083895740
Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
domain admin
DNStination, Inc.
45 Fremont St.
Suite 1400
San Francisco
Fax- +1.2083895740

This entity has also registered, and shares the same fax number as Data Docket (confirmed Google domain holding company). It also is registered through, Google’s registrar.

Upgrade to WP 2.

Products by on February 17, 2006 at 4:45 pm

So, I needed to upgrade to WordPress 2.0 in order to support the JudysBook ‘Publish to my Blog’ feature. The upgrade was really quite easy. Now to give ‘Publish to my Blog’ a try.

Maps AS THE interface

Products by on January 17, 2006 at 7:01 pm

My latest fascination has been the potential of maps to serve as the primary interface for finding all kinds of information - particularly when coupled with filtered search (ala Kayak or Trulia). Clearly I’m not the only one thinking this, but there are a tremendous number of possibilities that I haven’t found in the various mashups out there. Information ripe for exploring via a map include:

  • Movies (theater locations and times)
  • Events & calendars
  • Post offices & drop boxes
  • Gas prices
  • Plus of course all of the random things that people find interesting (public toilets, parking garages, potholes, christmas lights etc.) This is particularly interesting, becuase it is too hard for most consumers to code and share their own map. A few solutions have cropped up, but they are still for the technically oriented.

I’ve seen some examples of these ideas layered on top of GoogleMaps, but they still leave a lot to be desired. Google begun building ‘map explorations’ into some of its core search, but I’d argue that they haven’t been that successful with it yet (local and froogle being good examples)?

Elements of UI Design

Products by on October 17, 2005 at 1:08 am

When I started writing notes for this blog, I swore that I would not write about Apple or Tivo. However, I do think that they both provide excellent case studies in UI design. After several weeks using the iPod Nano, I am incredibly impressed by the UI design. Two must read articles are:

The highlight of both articles is that effective UI design is all about making products as intuitive and easy to use as possible. It means building a UI that does what user’s expect it to do, not forcing unexpected features and options. Both are must reads for anyone interested in the topic.

« Previous PageNext Page »
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License. | Dave Naffziger's BlogDave & Iva Naffziger