innovations in “place-based” mapping

Place-based mapping sounds like an oxymoron but it’s the only name I can come up with to describe the latest craze in annotating points on a map with stories.

The latest innovation in online mapping is wikimapia. Wikimapia combines wikis and Google Maps by allowing site visitors to annotate and describe places using the Google map user interface.

I’m kind of dubious. It looks like one of these high concept convergence things that venture capitalists jump on (“it combines wikis and Google maps! Oh and let’s throw in flicr too!”). What I’m more interested in is theme specific maps like fluwiki. By narrowing the subject matter, the site developers are more likely to garner content. Wiki sites live or die on the basis of content. I see little impetus to add content to wikimapia to ensure lots of geographic coverage.

Another mashup is The People’s Atlas. The interface is much nicer, combing the feel of flicr and myspace (e.g., one can link to other tags and users). A site visitor can easily add multimedia (I like the incorporation of youtube. Its main usage at the moment seems to be advertising. “The best place to visit while you’re in Garberville is the Tiki Lounge.” So like above, if the site wants to live up to its moniker, the “People’s Atlas,” it requires huge numbers of people to add interesting content.

(On a conspiratorial note, has anyone noticed the subliminal instances of “Google” embossed on Google Maps and Earth layers?)

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