wiki Google Maps


Published: November 17, 2009
From Petaluma to Peshawar, volunteer cartographers are logging details of neighborhoods near and far.

This has been happening for a while, but NY Times has a good story on how the Wikipedia effect of knowledge is hitting Google Maps.

Note the quote from TeleAtlas officials: “Most of our customers expect a level of due diligence and quality that is way more than what a community is going to put together,” said Patrick McDevitt, vice president of global engineering at Tele Atlas.

The problem for McDevitt is, the authoritative gatekeeping structure of knowledge aggregation is increasingly losing its illusion of perfect accuracy. NY Times is right: often pay-for data is missing major and minor changes, like the Burger King near my apartment that has been closed for a year but still shows up when I'm looking for a Whopper. Why is a modestly-paid van-cartegrapher that drives by your neighborhood on a Saturday afternoon more definite than the tiny efforts of your entire neighborhood? If we answer "he's a professional"--it's true, but isn't it thin ground? Does a salary mean better accuracy? It probably guards against intentional pranking, but I doubt it adds a passion for detail. Extrinsic motivation (salaried map person) typically doesn't beat intrinsic motivation (neighbor who wants their neighborhood marked right!).

The role of the "expert" either dies or is modified greatly in digital culture.

Guess that's why Google is slowly dropping the paid data model, opting instead for local, amateur groups and reading their own street signs on Google Street View!  Guess that's the next best thing to being there.  :)

ps - I really do hope to a have a new blog soon.  Information culture and theology still being the main lines of thought, with everything else tossed in.  Whatcha think:  aim for the holidays?  Christmas or January might be the way to go.