I’ve finally created an annotated Google Map of Kusatsu, Shiga Prefecture in English. The major places of interest have been marked on the map. The sidebar lists them in alphabetical order (except for train stations and city hall which appear at the top of the list). Kusatsu was the only city left for which I didn’t have a map. I now have annotated Google Maps in English for all of Shiga’s cities and towns. Also, I’ve incorporated short URLs for all of the Google Maps. You can see them on the shiga-ken.com home page under Maps.
Google Map for Kusatsu: http://goo.gl/maps/zFVsQ
My apologies to people and visitors in Kusatsu for the delay in making this map. When I first started making Google Maps years ago, the Japan maps still didn’t have English place names. We also couldn’t rearrange the order of the annotated places in the sidebar. The map URLs were also very long. Due to such limitations, my initial attempts to create Google Maps were rudimentary and less motivated. I knew that improvements had to come sooner or later, so I waited. Now that these problems have been resolved, I will be adding more places to the maps to make them more useful. I know that there is a demand when I see thousands of views for each map I have created. The annotations are also linked to my Web site with thumbnail images and links to my photo albums.
Facebook is the most popular Internet service I’ve ever seen. In the United States, a staggering 7 out of 10 Internet users are on Facebook. Despite the enormous popularity, I have declined to create a Facebook page for shiga-ken.com even though I’m an active FB user.
Here are my reasons:
- Not everyone is on Facebook. In fact, many of my friends are still not on Facebook or they are just too busy for FB. People not on FB cannot see any content there. Also, you have to be at least 13 years old to register on FB. I know there are kids younger than age 13 reading my blog to study English. But everyone can see my Shiga News blog.
- Facebook is geared for short, fleeting posts and content. Whereas my content are usually longer than a paragraph, more in-depth, and can be useful as practical information/reference for a much longer time.
- We cannot organize or categorize Facebook posts according to theme or key words. Facebook posts can be archived only by timeline (month and year). Look at my Shiga News blog. All my posts can be archived in categories (city, town, festivals, etc.) as well as by year/month. This is not possible with Facebook.
- Facebook posts do not have individual URLs. If there is an FB post I like, I cannot send the URL to anyone nor bookmark it for later reference.
- We cannot conduct key word searches of FB posts. FB posts also do not show up in Google search results as blog posts do. All that content you create on FB gets lost in the shuffle as time passes.
- The quality of the content on FB is inherently low. Lots of noise and superficial posts. It’s simply not a source of quality information. FB can never replace a high-quality Web site or blog. It’s just not conductive to accumulate and host quality content. Why post quality content when it will disappear into obscurity within days?
- Expending a lot of time and effort to create content that someone else will profit from does not bode well with me. There should be revenue-sharing like Google Ads.
- Who knows how long Facebook will last? Similar services like Myspace and the once enormously-popular mixi in Japan reached a peak and then went downhill. Sooner or later, people will get tired of all that noise and frivolous chatter and useless automated messages of “so-and-so is now friends with so-and-so” on FB. The novelty will wear off or something better might come along. Although I use FB, I’m not investing heavily into it. I avoid making lots of FB friends, divulging a lot of personal information including likes, and creating a lot of quality content.
- The content I create on Facebook cannot be downloaded and saved as a backup file. I can always save my Web site and blog content as a backup database file and copy it to another site or host. Not possible with FB which is like a black hole that sucks everything in and gives nothing back except comments, likes, and ads. Someday when you quit FB or if FB implodes like Myspace, all that content you created will not be recoverable in any efficient way. Therefore, I reserve FB for only disposable content that can be written off in the end.
The main attraction of Facebook is the quick feedback and interactivity you can get from posts. Eliciting comments and likes from friends can be addictive. It’s also extremely easy to post on FB. Much easier than posting on a blog. But in the long run, a blog is better than FB because I can have complete control, ownership, and archival capability of my content. Content that anyone on the Internet can see or subscribe to. I’m not at the mercy of Facebook which can change its terms and conditions or system at any time. Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with my best friends, especially in times of emergency. That’s about it.
Update: Article about FB users in Japan losng interest:
Wishing everyone in Shiga a Happy New Year.
Praying for a safe, healthy, and prosperous 2012.
(Dragon photo was shot at Taga Taisha Shrine’s lantern festival in Aug.)