Mapping Web Sites
NYT/NSF Social Explorer, HUD, and the USGS sites had the most manipulable data for mapping. Google Maps had impressive speed and granularity, as well as colored satellite imagery, but it's function seems restricted to location. It seems impossible to apply any layers aside from plotting restaurants or types of businesses over the map. Therefore, the scope was far more limited than USGS, HUD, and NYT/NSF. I found it interesting that by selecting "maps" on the USGS site, I was led back to TerraServer. I liked the internal folder hierarchy of HUD, as it seemed very intuitive, yet also loaded with data. I had difficulty with ESRI's Geographic Network. This one seemed like a sort of pathfinder, or metageography site. Mapping abilities are minimal from the site directly, and selecting one of the links leads to a sort of bibliographic record, complete with some Dublin Core-like metadata. While both HUD and USGS had a lot to offer in map-creation, USGS's granularity lacked what HUD and NYT/NSF provided. I couldn't get closer than a county level. I would consider these last three sites to be GIS systems because of the ability to manipulate data in order to see correlations, but the functionality of the the other sites seemed too limited to me to be considered strong tools for GIS applications. Aside from that, Google Maps works great for locating an address and businesses near that address quickly. Overall, I think that HUD and NYT/NSF were most useful at a street level, and USGS was most useful at the county/regional level.