Many years ago there was a band called Transvision Vamp. And they did a song called Trash City. (“motivation for the spacin’ generation.”) And now every time I see the name of the Ask’ mega-business-local-searcha thing, AskCity, I hear the song Trash City. But that’s okay because the new tools Ask is offering for AskCity means I don’t mind hearing TV in my head instead of The Bell Rays.
AskCity, at http://city.ask.com/city , is a map application that allows you to search for local businesses, events, and movies. Just enter a keyword and a timespan. Make sure that you’re zoomed to the area that you want to search, because AskCity won’t search the entire US by default. I found just searching for city names did the most good.
Once you’ve found something of interest, then you’ll get to use those nifty drawing tools that Ask recently announced. You can draw shapes on the map which overlay their coverage area with a very slight shade — useful for pointing things out. However you can also search within the shapes you’ve drawn. You can search within an area covering several states or draw a straight line and search only a street. There’s also a freehand drawing tool and a tool for adding text.
You can put multiple shapes/lines on a map and search within each. And the shapes show up on the map view or on the aerial view. At certain levels you can take screen shots of the map and save them on the map page. (This worked well when I was at city level, but when I zoomed out pretty far and tried to take a screen shot Firefox almost crashed.)
Of course Ask has wrapped all this up with the ability to set permalinks or e-mail address information to friends. Very cool. The next time I have to generate a map or do some very narrow-level searching, this is where I’m going first.