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Google Starts Wikifying Maps

By - June 24, 2008

Myanmarmapscreenshot

This feature was a long time coming. From Mashable:

Google has announced a new feature of Google Maps called MapMaker, which allows anyone with a Google account (therefore, everyone) to edit Google Maps Google Maps . We’re not talking editing your or your friends’ version; we’re talking about the real thing. You can now edit and moderate roads, lakes, parks, POIs, cities and other local features as you please.



For now the feature, called MapMaker, is limited to some pretty odd choices: Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Grenada, Jamaica, Netherlands Antilles, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago. Why? According to Google: “The existing mapping data for these countries could benefit tremendously from local knowledge and expertise that you and other map makers posses, and we’re excited to see how you put that to use.” Google’s primary example: Mapping Myanmar for relief efforts, an application that Google already executed.

That’s very, very cool, of course, but if you think Google is doing this entirely out of the goodness of its heart, then you must also think Google AdWords is a philanthropy effort. As with nearly everything Google does, there’s always a reason that sounds like a gift to the world, and a reason it makes sense that’s a gift to Google. Allow me to bold the word in the Google announcement that might be the latter:

Map Maker allows you and your peers to add, edit and moderate most features you see on maps including roads, lakes, parks, points of interest, businesses, cities and localities. You will be able to trace many of these features using satellite images; as you trace, maps are immediately updated.

Anywho. I think this is a great new feature, and if it eventually allows for crowdsourced local AdWords, so much the better!

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2 thoughts on “Google Starts Wikifying Maps

  1. Peter says:

    I can’t understand the interface yet – mabye that’ll come later.

    With every new google product or service, there are myriad breathless blog posts that review those products/services in this format:

    1. new features
    2. they are good for people
    3. but beware, google might make money off it.

    As to whether a corporation aims to make money or not, I do find it strange that so many folks feel it necessary to point out that Google, being a for-profit corporation, actually aims to make money.

    and speaking of ‘businesses’ – they actually tend to have utility for people, too — they’re not just way for google to make money.

    and this catcha thing is absolutely ridiculous.

  2. ian says:

    http://openstreetmap.org/ has been doing this for several years now. Check them out — there are tons of interesting problems to solve and collecting GPS tracks to map later is definitely a fun way to spend a summer day!