HubPages Chats With Google Sightseeing

Now that the rigorous judging for HubPages Marks the Spot is over, we had the time to actually chat with our esteemed Judges James & Alex Turnbull from Google Sightseeing – a blog all about discovering the world via Google Maps.  Enjoy our exchange below, where the pair reveal some of their coolest Google Maps discoveries, as well as some thoughts on the contest and Map Capsule 😀

HubPages: What inspired you to start Google Sightseeing?

Google Sightseeing: We were fascinated with the satellite imagery on Google Maps when it was launched in 2005, and we found so many interesting places in the first few hours of browsing that we thought we’d share them. At the time, we had no idea that there would be enough sights to keep us going for the next 5 years! The world it seems, is a much bigger place than we previously thought.

What are some of the coolest sights you’ve shared on the blog?

With over 1,800 posts on the site it’s really hard to choose, however some memorable ones include the 60-metre pink rabbit on a hillside in Italy, the world’s tallest unoccupied building in North Korea, a mysterious abandoned pod city in Taiwan, and the world’s largest graffiti.

How do you think Google Maps has changed the way we live our day-to-day lives?

Google Maps has changed our lives immeasurably – there’s nowhere you can’t look up before you go, no reason to get lost, and nowhere that’s out of reach, at least virtually. Cartography is at the forefront of technology today, and that’s due in part to Google Maps.

What did you enjoy most about the hubs you read for HubPages Marks the Spot?

We’re surprised every single day about the things people find using Google maps, Earth and Street View, and it’s easy to forget how much local and personal knowledge Google’s services don’t provide! All of the hubs gave us a great insight into places that we could never have found out about otherwise.

What kind of location-based hubs (using the new HubPages Map Capsule, which allows hubbers to embed Google Maps into their hubs) would you most like to see?

Personally we’d like to see hubs featuring things you can appreciate without having to visit the location in person – but that’s just us!

What is the coolest (be it useful, silly, creative, or just plain interesting) potential use of the Map Capsule you can think of?

It would be great if the map capsule could expand eventually to provide info directly on the map – clicking markers to reveal content directly related to that thing. An annotated guide like that of an area would be really interesting when filled up with your users’ insights.

If you could immediately teleport to any of the locations or areas that you judged in the contest, which would it be?

We think that would have to be Old Town Temecula! What an amazing place, and a million miles in every way from where we are now.


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Thanks, Alex & James!

An Interview with’s Esther Brown

As Week 3 of HubPages Marks the Spot nears its end, we thought it might be fun to catch up with Esther Brown, the Community Manager at, our contest sponsor.  Below you’ll find her thoughts on local content- as well as the HubPages contest. Enjoy!

HubPages: First, could you tell us a little about what is all about?

Esther Brown: is the leading provider of hyperlocal news and information. We provide local audiences with neighborhood news and information from bloggers, journalists and mainstream media on hundreds of trusted news sites. In doing so, we help these local content creators by driving traffic to their sites.

How have you seen the concept of “hyperlocal” (be it related to news, as it is with, or reviews, as with Yelp, or location-overviews, as with HubPages Marks the Spot) evolve over the past couple of years?

The first thing that comes to mind for me is the idea of ubiquity. Especially for those interested in media, the term ‘hyperlocal,’ has come to be omnipresent. A few years ago, ‘hyperlocal,’ was on the radar of only a select few companies or individuals. Now, more and more people and businesses understand the concept and opportunity. In the next year or so, I suspect you’ll see another leap for ‘hyperlocal’ as it moves from an exciting vision to a set of profitable best practices.

What kind of location-based articles would you most like to read, personally?

I love food, culture and history, so personally I’d love to see information about food-centric events that are happening around me, or perhaps stories about the people that are making the foods that I love. I love design, too, so I’d also be interested in stories about the history of buildings and places that surround me.

If you were to write an entry for this contest, what would it be?

I’d love to do a profile piece involving a lot of the bloggers I’ve interviewed for our Bloggers We Love series. I’d call it something like ‘Bloggers We Love: Their Favorite Places,’ or “Bloggers We Love: Road Trip” and I’d visit the different cities these bloggers write about and have them take me on a tour of their favorite spots. Like an insider’s guide to the city: curated by local bloggers and aimed at both visitors and locals.

There are tons of great local bloggers out there, and I love to spotlight them and the places they love. All the credit would go to my fabulous tour guides, of course, like Tasha Ball of Tasha Does Tulsa, who knows everything there is to know about what’s good in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Thanks, Esther!

To learn more about, visit or chat with Esther on Twitter via @Outsidein and @BloggersWeLove. You can also read more about’s ‘Bloggers We Love,’ series on their company blog: To connect with Esther, follow her on Twitter via @estheribrown or @YallHungary.

Curbed SF’s Philip Ferrato Shares His Thoughts on HubPages Marks the Spot

Philip FerratoOne of our judges for the HubPages Marks the Spot contest is none other than Philip Ferrato, the Contributing Editor for Curbed SF.

Philip is a great blogger and a fun person to chat with, and luckily for us, he had a spare moment to share some of his thoughts on the contest! Check out our interview below:

HubPages: would you mind telling us a bit about yourself and Curbed SF?

Philip Ferrato: I’ve been around. I grew up in in the suburbs of New York and lived in New York City until I was forty, then moved to Portland OR.  About fourteen years ago I moved to San Francisco. The Curbed network of blogs began about eight years ago by Lockhart Steele, who started out by writing about his neighborhood in Manhattan (while working at Gawker) and has grown into a huge enterprise, mostly with the phenomenal success of Eater. Curbed SF began about five years ago- I’d been a long-time fan of the NY and LA blogs and suggested starting an SF version. When the pressures of my real job got too intense it was time to move on, but I’ve always been a fan, and now back as a contributor, while I figure out if I’ve actually retired.

What have you thought about the contest entries so far?

Good stuff. Distillation is critical- the temptation is include too much text. A good corollary is the old comment on a woman getting dressed- “before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off”. I realize if you’re only wearing a t-shirt and hotpants you might get arrested. But it still applies to blogging.

Think ahead to new smartphones and the iPad. I love Google’s “My Maps” and and trotted out out my own “beta” map– still a work in progress. The digital world will only get more interactive.

What is your take on HubPages so far? Had you heard of us before?

Impressed. Um, no. *ducks*

What kind of locations (restaurants? shops? parks?) would you like to read more about?

Biodiesel locations. Carwashes. Clean bathrooms. The Laundromats of Barcelona.

If you were to write an entry for the HubPages Marks the Spot contest, on what would it be? (historical buildings? cafes? etc..)

All of the above!

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Thanks Philip!

To see the results of Philip’s first (and if you’re reading this later, subsequent) judging, visit our contest page.

HubPages Marks the Spot – HubPages’ Contest Featuring the (Treasure)Map Capsule

HubPages Marks the Spot

This September, HubPages is setting sail on its most boisterous contest yet: HubPages Marks the Spot!

HubPages Marks the Spot, sponsored by, is all about mapping out local treasures using the HubPages Map Capsule – and sharing lots of loot with those HubBuccaneers who care to join us.  This contest has not four but five kinds of prizes, ranging in rewards from $50 (awarded to two winners daily) to $500 (awarded to the swashbuckling author of the contest’s best hub).

Topics rotate weekly and include local attractions, resources, and places to unwind, as well as more distant vacation destinations.

The value of participating in this contest is fourfold:

  1. Entrants get a chance to win awesome prizes
  2. Hubbers are able to write on subjects with which they are already familiar – we all utilize local shops and resources and are therefore de facto experts, plus the list of potential hubs one can write on each week’s theme are endless
  3. Writers learn how to create optimized, attractive, and useful hubs using the map capsule and adhering to our helpful judging criteria
  4. Hubbers writing hubs on contest topics are creating excellent articles that will continue to bring them revenue long after the contest is over

I hope you can join in on the fun – and I hope you win something too!  To be honest, there’s no losing here… unless ONE OF YE SCURVY DOGS THINKS YEH CAN GET THE BEST OF OL’ SWASHBUCKLING SIMONE!  Keep that in mind.  Because dead men write no hubs.