26 July 2007

Mapmaking for the masses, online

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Horse trails
“With the help of simple tools from Internet companies, millions of people are reshaping mapmaking and creating a new kind of atlas,” writes Miguel Helft in the International Herald Tribune.

“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 organised 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 San Francisco Bay area freeway, and the path of two whales that swam up the Sacramento River delta in May.”

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