[Geowanking] a modest proposal for google maps
mnl at well.com
Wed Jul 20 16:46:34 PDT 2005
Thanks for your excellent thoughts, Anselm.
I, for one, am profoundly disappointed that just as the Mapping Hacks
book is released, a milestone in geo hacking, Google has stolen the
energy and enthusiasm for grass roots mapping. Instead of trying out
I'm beginning to think that Google might do best, to embrace open
mapping and release themselves from servitude to their vendors, Navteq,
Teleatlas, et. al. google is constrained, -and- constraining open
development by their dependence on these outside private geodata suppliers.
Maybe Google can be convinced to 'do no evil'
how? by agregating, and combining user created google map hack layers so
that the Google user hacks and data are more important than the Navteq,
and teleatlas base layers. Google could continue to ride the growing
wave of map hacking energy by enoouraging value of -agregated- user
hacks 'n apps, so they could become less dependent on private data.
google could crawl for google map hacks, and build tools to combine the
user data -minus proprietary base layers.
Given, Navteq and Teleatlas data IS more accurate and 'prettier' than
TIGER, and Open Streetmap data, But as Rich Gibson suggests, it would
be cool if they added a Tiger layer and allowed free-er access to that.
I'd go further and suggest that just as Google actively supports the
Mozilla foundation they should actively support openstreetmap, and
World Wind WMS/WFS/GML and other related projects too.
Somehow, google has to realize that there's lots to gain by abandoning
Navteq, and Teleatlas dependencies, and instead actively supporting
export google tiles into WMS servers and Worldwind, actively import and
agregate Openstreetmap and other user created data projects into google
maps, and and abandon Keyhole's proprietary tactics driving KML as 'a
standard' and instead actively support OGC standards especially
supporting native WMS/WFS/GML projects too.
If google really is right on the edge between open mapping and vendors,
it shouldn't take much to pull them over. We should do what we can to
win Google over instead of leaving open mappers futiley trying to
compete, with the 'bulldozer in the sandbox'
Anselm Hook wrote:
> There are still good opportunities for the open source community:
> 1) Volatility. There seems to be a trend towards pursuing a
> 'volatility edge'. Services can compete by capturing events that are
> more and more up to the moment. Google was in itself a large
> improvement on AltaVista for example. One can imagine open source
> projects that capture the transient flow of human activity as it
> happens. There are privacy concerns of course but a lot of the most
> interesting and most relevant information is that which is most
> timely. Jim Fournier deserves some credit for this encapsulation -
> but it seems like there is almost a law at work here - a data version
> of Moores law; that the value of data decreases exponentially with
> Since Google tends to pursue the larger and more static data
> aggregation - there does seem to be room for innovation here.
> 2) Insider knowledge. Some people have argued that Google tends to
> study systems from the 'outside'; in an almost autistic manner - not
> realizing that they are a part of the same system themselves.
> This is probably just a legacy of their initial attack on the problem;
> clearly there are a lot of bright minds there and they're just as
> likely to build a really great community service and collect
> information from that as to do brute force aggregation and analysis.
> They can afford to take all paths simultaneously and select the best
> of all outcomes, or can be second to the table and still dominate.
> At the same time however they have yet to favor social knowledge.
> Dodgeball and their blogging application (whatever its name is I
> forget) are not contributing to their other projects; and seem to be
> kind of lost in the muddle at the moment. For example the blogging
> application doesn't help refine google search, and the dodgeball
> application doesn't help refine google maps. One can easily imagine
> the kind of say marketing analysis that a blogging community could
> yield for example, or the kind of highly refined hotspot list a
> location game could generate.
> I've actually found delicious outperforming google for some simple
> single word queries. For example I was searching for 'Taekwondo' and
> found some instruction on the kata's faster and better on Del than
> with Google. So that is at least one example where a slightly
> intelligent social tool running on basically toy hardware by
> comparison physically outperformed a massively huge brute force
> aggregation and analysis strategy. It is instructive.
> There was a classic Brittanica versus Wikipedia moment at the Where
> 2.0 conference last month. During the 'Driving the Mean Streets'
> presentation by Robert Denaro of NavTeq the comment was made: "We have
> invested 100k man hours in the last year to collect street data and
> this is a significant cost that we have to recoup". This is point
> where open source developers can leverage a better understanding. If
> NavTek had invented the Web instead you might imagine the same
> executive saying 'How are we going to create all of the web pages on
> the internet for everybody to read? Can you imagine the cost!'.
> There may be some momentary opportunity here therefore for open source
> developers to work more closely within the highly social communities
> that they typically inhabit and understand so well.
> Also it is speculatively arguable that _real_ social knowledge and
> real social awareness is to some degree 'anti-commercial'. It cannot
> be commercialized and leveraged because by definition is is that
> knowledge which a community uses to speak about itself. It can be
> highly critical of commercial interests and or can lose its value when
> not spoken by a genuine and respected participant in that community.
> 3) Domain Interests. Google Maps specifically doesn't yet speak to
> domain interests such as archeology or geology. There is a wonderful
> book called "In Search of Ancient Oregon" (
> http://bookswelike.net/isbn/088192590X ) that I would love to
> translate into an application; to actually dynamically explore the
> movement of the continental plates such as that of North America from
> Triassic to present.
> A geo-annotated 'guns, germs and steel' also would be wonderful to
> explore the ebb and flow of native cultures around the world - to
> develop an intuition about these events.
> The grass-roots social cartography layer that I think most of us are
> excited by can be considered just a domain interest. Clearly there
> are a lot of domain interests; and Google Maps only accelerates those
> interests rather than inhibits them.
> I have other thoughts re this but have to get back to hacking in any
> - a
> On 7/11/05, Brian Lalor <blalor at bravo5.org> wrote:
>>On Jun 15, 2005, at 3:52 PM, Mike Liebhold wrote:
>>>>By the way, I guess I missed why big business is ruining open
>>>>source GIS (sic).
>>>This is a delicate moment, just before the boom. It's possible that
>>>enthusiam for google maps could dilute attention from lots of other
>>>important grassroots and open mapping projects just gaining
>>>critical momentum, that could really benefit from the kind user
>>>contributed code and hacks that people are doing with google maps.
>>I would argue that this is a good chance for those other projects to
>>learn from Google and make their products as easy to integrate as
>>Google has done! I don't look forward to the day when Google starts
>>embedding ads and whatnot into their maps, but I love that I can
>>*easily* (easily being the key word here) visualize all kinds of
>>information in a browser. I'd be just as happy if I could do it
>>*easily* with Tiger data. Google has provided a dead-simple API and
>>done so SO much of the hard work for me.
>>The definition of "easily" is of course dependent on the person, but
>>for someone with a limited knowledgebase of geospatial mathematics,
>>it's just so durn cool that I can stick an icon on a map at my
>> __ ____
>> / / / __/ Brian Lalor "If you still have gas, you're
>> / _ \/__ \ blalor at bravo5.org -- Jacques Strappe
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