Because it’s MapQuest, a site you forgot was there unless you’re that guy who works from bookmarks made in 1998 (or maybe you remember it was mentioned in Lazy Sunday), I doubt many people are going to check out the site’s new “local pages.” (Here’s a link to the generic URL local.mapquest.com, so be impressed (or alarmed) if it displays your hometown.*)
There’s a lot to like about it, however — and to learn. The site is like any number of “start pages,” but it comes pre-populated with all types of widget-looking modules displaying content fed from Topix, Flickr, etc.
Like most early-adapter types, I already have something similar set up — and more customized to my specific tastes — using iGoogle (although it could be done on any number of services). The Mapquest Local page is a nice and simple option for those who, for whatever reason, don’t like to set up their browser and web-applications in ways that make accessing information easier.
Also, the page is a great model for how someone can set up a public-facing webpage that is nothing more than lots of widgets (or “content modules) that display content from a variety of sources using API and RSS feed methods. (If that last part makes no sense, it just means it would be easy for someone with “hobbiest” level web development skills — or even me — to put together.)
Note: I’m sure there are other services that have similar local pages like this, but I haven’t seen one so well pre-packaged. If you have, please point to them in the comments below.
*While the MapQuest blog implies the map (apparently using a cookie) defaults to the location of your most recent search. However, I tested it with a cookie-free browser, so I assume they are using any number of other means to guess where I am currently located.