google maps: the good, the bad, and the cloverfield

From a serious student in Intro GIS

Google Maps is a digital earth that displays the inter-relationships of geographic information systems. These inter-relationships include; distances, directions, duration, adjacency, and property boundaries. Google uploads this geographic information systems (GIS) data and makes it available to the public.

The public finds the geospatial information they are looking for through visual inspection. They can search for information by address; type; name; what, where; moving and viewing (clicking on a point on the map and dragging it until you see your area of interest).

Google maps help us to find our way around the world. It provides us with the basic layers of navigation needed for people to find their way around areas (roads, highways, parks etc). The special characteristic of Google maps is that anyone can create their own maps. All you have to do is create your own Google account. When done properly and with good intent, personal maps can be useful. They allow citizens to give short cuts or personal directions to places, such as winter cottages for the thanksgiving supper. They allow people to update the maps after natural disasters so love ones can come and get them. For instance when the radio station KPBS maintained an up-to-date map of the fire situation in San Diego. This allowed residences of the area to check in and see if their properties were affected by the fire.

Google Maps also have their down sides. As with most public accessed sites, you get the characters who like to just play around with the software for no apparent reason and confuse people who are looking for important information. Take for instance the map of where the things in Cloverfield happen. This is a map displaying the major scenes in a movie. Although it is intended for a certain audience, anyone can look at it. Most likely it annoys people who are searching for actual places in that area and get this map as their result.

As wonderful as Google maps are in how accessible they make maps to be, they can also slow people down and distract them from their original intentions. Something that a good old fashioned Atlas could never do. But overall Google maps have been a very positive addition to the Internet and GIS.

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