Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Announcing Kiva Maps!

Being an engineer is a strange job. We spend most of our time working on things that we can't even begin to explain to 99% of the people we meet. I'm convinced that for the first six years of my career my Mom thought I was a typist.

Since I've been at Kiva, all that has changed. Now when people ask me what I do I tell them I build Kiva, and thanks to our one-woman wrecking crew of a PR Department that's usually enough. As an engineer, to think that every day over 16,000 people all over the world are seeing my work is incredibly gratifying. As a normal human being (distinct from engineer;), the opportunity to play a part in something so revolutionary is beyond compare. If you're reading this that means you're a Kivanaut as well, so you probably know what I mean.

Last night we released a new feature for the website that I'm really excited about - Kiva Maps. We're using the Google Maps API on each Entrepreneur Profile page to show the geographic distribution of lenders to that Entrepreneur. Check it out by clicking 'Map View' in the 'Lenders to this Business' section:

(thanks to for the screenshot)

Not surprisingly, we encountered a couple of problems shortly after going live with the feature. There were some Internet Explorer issues (as usual), and we also ran up against Google's limit of 15,000 geocoding requests per day pretty quickly. Those things notwithstanding, it's been a very smooth release, and I look forward to seeing how this might affect our numbers. My hope is that seeing Kiva laid out on a map will drive home how big this thing really is and encourage even more people to join in.

I hope you all enjoy playing with Kiva Maps as much as we enjoyed making them. If you'd like to leave comments/ideas/glowing praise please feel free to jump in on this KivaFriends thread.

PS to KivaFriends - Your sneaky move of putting the KivaFriends url in your lender page address should now be playing nicely with the maps :)