New Google Local Search Offering Lacks One Big Thing

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If you use Google to find places out there in the real world a lot, you'll be happy to note that the company has made some small changes to the way that they present local searches.

Now, searches for "Ethiopian food, Washington, D.C." actually return a list of restaurants with single, definite pages. In the past, the results were a little sloppier. Some suggest this could hurt the local review site, Yelp.

But here's the thing about place-based searching: I want to be able to limit the geography in which I'm looking. If I search for Ethiopian food in D.C., there are dozens of places. I want to zoom the map in to just my neighborhood (Shaw near Howard University, FWIW). This is what Yelp.com does -- and it's the only thing that keeps me going back to that site.

Update: My oversight is your good news! As Jackie Bavaro, Google Place Search's Product Manager points out below, you can get that Yelp-like functionality by clicking on the map. So, it's just on the Places page itself that the map is static. 

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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