I was intrigued when I heard about Offbeat Guides – a service that lets you “build your own travel guide”. A fresh, tech-enabled stab at tourist information. My vision was getting the best info from a variety of existing travel guides mashed up with info pulled from the net, having it available on my iPod Touch or any other PDA or phone. Turns out
a) The service is paper or PDF only (at least to begin with).
b) None of the existing commercial guidebooks’ text is available. Instead , “we pull our information from dozens of locations and we’re continuing to add more. Sources include Wikitravel, Wikipedia, Yahoo Finance, AccuWeather, Google Maps, and Eventful”. And the results are predictably rather weak and dull (at least when I made myself a guide to London). I suppose there may be a market willing to pay $10 for a PDF that brings together web information that would take an hour or so of of copying and pasting to compile, but I was hoping for something a little more attractive. If it were free and ad supported I might consider it…
PS The service is in closed beta at the moment – you can request a code to try it though and once you are in they’re giving people two free guides to try out – so don’t take my word for it!