mm089: With Tools on Web, Amateurs Reshape Mapmaking – New York Times

July 29, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Things I found on the way to finding other things…

The New York Times

July 27, 2007


With Tools on Web, Amateurs Reshape Mapmaking


SAN FRANCISCO, July 26 — On the Web, anyone can be a mapmaker.

With the help of simple tools introduced by Internet companies recently, millions of people are trying their hand at cartography, drawing on digital maps and annotating them with text, images, sound and videos.

In the process, they are reshaping the world of mapmaking and collectively creating a new kind of atlas that is likely to be both richer and messier than any other.

They are also turning the Web into a medium where maps will play a more central role in how information is organized and found.

Already there are maps of biodiesel fueling stations in New England, yarn stores in Illinois and hydrofoils around the world. Many maps depict current events, including the detours around a collapsed Bay Area freeway and the path of two whales that swam up the Sacramento River delta in May. …

Using new applications such as Google’s My Maps, and a startup called Platial, the Times reports that these annotations of existing maps are adding rich new layers of data to the way people understand their world.

“What is happening is the creation of this extremely detailed map of the world that is being created by all the people in the world,” said John V. Hanke, director of Google Maps and Google Earth. “The end result is that there will be a much richer description of the earth.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

With Tools on Web, Amateurs Reshape Mapmaking – New York Times

In this case, once again the web is changing the world, which is changing the web — a true virtuous cycle (a typical outcome from the Internet).

We see this phenomenon everywhere we look: another great example, last week’s YouTube Democratic presidential debate.

As they’ve always said, information is power. Imagine the leverage we’ll gain as we add so many new potential sources of information (OLPC from our previous post, mm088) in places that are presently under-represented in our (Western culture?) collective world view.

Our world will simultaneously grow larger, and smaller.

It’s it for now. Thanks,