Friday, June 24, 2011 | 12:22 PM
Editor’s Note: We love highlighting our users here on the blog, but we thought it’d also be fun to introduce you to the people behind the Google Places magic. And, of course, find out some of their favorite places around the world.
Location: New York
What do you do for Google Places?
I am the technical lead for the Google Maps User Interface, of which Google Places is a part. A lot of my work is janitorial: I clean up the architecture so that the many engineers working on Maps can make faster progress. A successful day for me is when I am able to delete something we no longer use, or simplify a design.
I am also involved in integrating Maps much more closely into Google’s web search, and in making sure our data quality is as good as it can be.
For fun, I also like catching spammers.
What’s one city you’ve been to that you absolutely loved, and what did you do there?
I used to live in Bangkok and absolutely loved it. If you think Thai food is great, just wait until you get to taste the real thing. Thais are very friendly and fun-loving, and great to hang out with. In the west, we are always amazed and intrigued when a city has good street life: It just doesn’t happen that often. One of the main reasons is that we don’t use our public spaces to live our lives. In Bangkok, families will be out and about hanging out on their street at all hours of the day or night. They cook excellent, cheap food that you can buy, you can have a drink with neighbors, everything feels very village-y even though you are in a gigantic metropolis. I really miss that aspect of city life and am quite intrigued by the efforts to bring this quality of life to New York City.
Name a place you have on your “Saved” list and why.
I actually have a ton. I love to explore New York City, and have compiled a list of places I like to visit. There is so much to discover! Did you know there is a ship graveyard in Staten Island? I put all these places into a My Map which I can load onto my Android phone, and as I walk around, it gives me ideas about what I could do that day. Highly recommended.
If you were an emoji, what would you look like?
I would wear a snappy hat. Or I would wear the “Love to Hate” Google Places t-shirt, which Mat allegedly designed with me in mind.
Tell us three of your Best Evers and why.
ÇIYA SOFRASI: An amazing Turkish restaurant in Istanbul (on the Asian side). The owner travels all over the remote provinces of Turkey and brings back these rare fruits and vegetables. Then he makes amazing dishes with them. On a recent visit I had a honey-infused candied slice of pumpkin for dessert.
Pie-O-Neer Cafe in Pie Town, NM: Pie heaven. It is the centerpiece of a very tiny township and only exists because the owners believed in their idea of baking amazing pies in the middle of nowhere.
Ta Prohm: Out of all the utterly amazing temples in Siem Reap, Cambodia, Ta Prohm is the one I liked the best. It still looks largely like it was found in the 19th century when it was rediscovered: Overgrown by the roots of huge banyan trees.
Posted by Gregor J. Rothfuss, Technical Lead for Google Maps User Interface