After the bajillionth Google Maps site it hit me: Google Maps is at its core a nifty UI widget for a common type of data. The OS doesn’t provide a widget for dealing with location data, and the web browser as a subset of OS widgets certainly doesn’t (hello combo box!). That’s like 10% of what makes Google Maps so cool, which is a lot considering how cool it is. People with location data are scrambling to put their data in a format that’s usable. Google Maps is literally changing the way people think about place.
Your homework assignment tonight is to think about what common types of data people have, and what kind of UI widget could be created specifically for browsing that data. Then create a multi-billion dollar business around your new web service. Bonus points for sucking up to my sympathetic nature towards the Semantic Web.