Investors and Google fans may not agree on whether Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is evil, but the search giant has emphasized its PR-friendly "don't be evil" theme with its latest offering. The Summer of Green site blends Google Maps with information from the Earth Day Network, helping travelers find eco-friendly spots in some top summer vacation destinations.

The Summer of Green is the Web's latest "mashup," a combination of information drawn from two or more different Web services -- for example, flagging a Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) map with apartment listings from Craigslist. The popularity of this phenomenon, which culls collective creativity on the Internet, often makes strange bedfellows. Mashups can make rival sites work together to give users more diverse, personalized experiences.

This past spring, Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) AOL announced that it was opening up AIM to developers, including the ability to make AIM-related mashups. Yahoo! then followed suit by releasing four tools that would allow Internet users to mix and match features from their online favorites.

Google's eco-friendly mashup follows another popular trend at the moment: being green. It may not be easy, according to Kermit the Frog, but these days it seems to be getting easier all the time. Wired magazine's May issue featured cover boy Al Gore and a series of articles on the going-green trend; a story in yesterday's New York Times story mentioned eco-friendly and cost-cutting business initiatives like those from Timberland (NYSE:TBL); and the recent release of Gore's global-warming documentary An Inconvenient Truth has spurred continued coverage on climate change.

Google's Summer of Green is apparently the search giant's first self-created mashup, providing travelers with environmental information and Google maps for Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, and San Francisco. This is no half-hearted charity case; Google's put together a feature-rich application that's ripe with advertising opportunities. As I played around with it, I found that clicking on the cities' eco-friendly spots launched pop-ups with descriptions of the featured activities and services -- and in some cases, video promotions -- with options to access directions. The featured maps also included other related maps and mashups, such as public transit maps for the cities. (In another nod to green alternatives, the Transit Trip Planner has been bubbling in Google Labs since December.)

Many of us may doubt whether Google's a solid investment at its current stock price. Others may wonder about Google's ability to avoid being evil, as epitomized by the debate over its policies in China. However, given some products like the Summer of Green, and the company's ability to target some of the hottest trends around, it's pretty hard to argue that Google's not cool.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.