Daily Placebo

  • Wednesday, May 27, 2009
  • One Map To Rule Them All.

    So this is pretty sweet. About a year ago I was in the Caribbean. It was nice. Then sometime after I got back Google launched something called "Map Maker". Its basically a copy of Google maps that people can edit in certain regions, wiki-style. One of those not mapped was Grand Cayman, which I had limited but first-hand knowledge of. So I went to town making little roads and buildings, trying to match up the satellite image with my memory and photos I'd taken. After a little searching I even found a scanned tourist map of the area that told me road names and points of interest. I digitized as much as made sense and promptly forgot about it. My knowledge was pretty much exhausted after 21.9 km of roads and 22 business listings, hey, I was only there for a few hours.

    As of today, my account is 337 days old and Google is announcing that they're rolling Map Maker changes into real Google Maps for those newly updated areas.
    A quick comparison shows that, yup, maps looks pretty much the same as the user generated map Maker version. But more importantly is how much detail is found on Grand Cayman now. There was literally nothing there when I started. (actually the island polygon was .5 km west of the satellite imagery) And random people with personal experience filled in the gaps. Other people helped with formatting and bam, all of a sudden there's a useful reference tool online.

    I guess I find this interesting because its what I though they were going for when they started the project and it actually worked. To try crowd sourcing obscure information. People don't really want compensation, they just want to collaborate, and maybe hope that people who know something they don't will share too.

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