I have discovered the magic that is Google Fusion Tables, and I can’t believe how much I can do with it. I’m still working out how to use it effectively, where geocoding comes in, and how to create intensity maps, but I’m really excited by the examples provided. (ETA: I need to use these codings for intensity maps: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_3166-1_alpha-2#Officially_assigned_code_elements.)
For the IMH, it will be important to geocode ahead of time as: “There are daily limits on free geocodes, so Fusion Tables can only geocode up to that amount. If you have a very large data set, you’ll need to manually geocode repeatedly over a series of days until all your data is entirely geocoded. The ungeocoded rows will be highlighted in yellow.”
I’m still getting some strange yellow rows–for example, “Bloomington, Indiana” came up yellow when other cities did not. I’m going to look at batch-processing the geocoding later tonight and then upload my data in lat, long format so that I can get better results–there’s also a service, Google Refine, that I’m looking into. However, the ease with which maps can be created is astounding.