Mashups Reshape Mapmaking

A few hundred years ago, I might have studied cartography. As a small boy, I made maps, obsessively creating legends, and laboriously drawing page after page of islands, oceans and unchartered territories for made-up lands.

In our modern age, there are all sorts of tools for map mashups: mixing google maps (or Yahoo maps, Microsoft Collections, or whatever) with new sorts of overlays. I just mentioned the walking map a day or two ago.

With Tools on Web, Amateurs Reshape Mapmaking - New York TimesOn 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 organized 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 Bay Area freeway and the path of two whales that swam up the Sacramento River delta in May. was mentioned in the WSJ a few days ago:

Web Sites, Satellite Radio Offer Real-Time Parking Info to Drivers -
Locating a parking spot in a big city ranks among drivers' most nagging frustrations and new services aim to direct drivers to open spots.

Taking advantage of the Web and new generation vehicle navigation systems, these offerings give drivers more information to help them find the closest – and sometimes cheapest – available spot. is a “virtual exchange” that lists open parking spaces within ZIP codes, said the company's founder Stephen Sinclair.

While the majority of the roughly 6,000 spaces currently listed on are from commercial lots, there are a small number of residential spots for sale, rent or sublet. The availability may range from a six-month sublet to a space that is only available during the weekend. The number of parking spaces listed fluctuates seasonally as well as regionally, Mr. Sinclair said.'s biggest markets are Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, according to Mr. Sinclair. Parking in some cities, especially Los Angeles, is so in-demand that listings are sometimes snapped up within a day of posting. “The spots come on and off so quickly that people think that in certain areas there's no parking available,” Mr. Sinclair said.

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This page contains a single entry by Seth A. published on July 27, 2007 10:48 AM.

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