Imagine standing by the water cooler with a few co-workers at the world’s premier online map provider. Contemplating weekend plans, you suggest a meet-up on the slopes. Then someone suggests, wistfully, “I wish we could preview the ski runs with our maps and street views.”
Frown turns into smile a year later because accompanying you on your next trip is a smartphone trail map complete with street-style views of the major ski runs. Working for Google has its perks!
To date, Google has mapped 38 prominent ski areas. Each map presents ski runs color-coded by difficulty: green (beginner), blue (intermediate), and black (expert). The coding mirrors the trail symbology skiers expect on ski area maps.
What is Google’s appeal to skiers? Here are a few that come to mind:
- Convenience: the map is as present as your smartphone, from hotel room to chair lift,
- Scale: zooming in and out is like having a pocketful of other maps, from world to ski lodge,
- Reach: the map ties into an infrastructure of information, like restaurant reviews, airport shuttle schedules, and photo upload sites.
Add a “street view” of a trail and you have an immersive experience from the comfort of your home or hotel. Try that with a paper map.
But let’s not forget the conventional paper trail map. What does it offer?
- Durability: the bumps and bruises of moguls and trees may leave it in better shape than its owner,
- Price: drop it from the chairlift, no great loss (and probably easier to retrieve than an errant iPhone),
- Usability: easy to operate in adverse conditions.
I’d like to know how much more or less cognitive performance the paper map achieves compared with the Google map. Which format encourages exploration, helps decision-making, gives a more useful visualization of the experience to be found out on the trail?
Do you favor a paper or Google map when you’re out on the slopes?