Gutenkarte takes texts from Project Gutenberg and links them to map data from Metacarta – the idea being that as you’re reading The Odyssey, for example, you can easily find the places on a map. I think this is a great idea.

Unfortunately, the parser can be a little over-enthusiastic. I doubt that the Court of Chancery referred to in Around the World in 80 Days actually took place in Chancery, France. And even Phileas Fogg, when talking about the West End, probably wasn’t referring to West End, Alabama.

Similarly, when the Martians in War of the Worlds emit their haunting cry, “Ulla, ulla, ulla!”, it hadn’t occurred to me that they were in fact pining for a small town in Southern Ireland.

I think this needs some community-based human editing à la Wikipedia – and that is in their plans.

The interface is a little strange, too – you have to start with the map and work back to the text, where I would have thought the other way around was more natural.

But it’s a cool concept…

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