via O’Reilly Radar again (subscribe if you don’t already):

Users are able to create their own maps and mark them public or private. The annotation tools that are provided are very simple and easy to use. Users are able to add lines, polygons and placemarks. They can edit those placemarks with HTML, images, and video. Once a map is created it is very easy to share it and syndicate it via KML. Items found during a local search can be added to a map with a click. Places found via GeoRSS or KML files can also be added to a map.

You can try it out on the maps site presuming you have a google login. I played with it and it worked fairly easy. While not a competitor to probably most mapping offerings I can see it taking the place of some of the simpler map sharing services. Tt might be simple to create mapped pages for library collections or exhibits without doing much programming with this new service, and with the export methods use it for your own mashups. Here’s an example they have of oral histories of Route 66.

But as O’reilly points out what is really interesting is that the search now includes georss and kml sources that have been indexed. Meaning that if you share a map or geocode material on your website, it’s quite possible that your locations/information will show up when someone searches the map. As he puts it:

If you have digital collections with geodata here is something you might want to look into.