UPDATE: Google Map Maker has added tens of thousands of edits of the Philippines to Google Maps
A friend half-jokingly said that if we joined the Amazing Race, it would be my fault that we would lose, primarily because I have a very bad sense of direction. Funny that I score really high in the Abstract Reasoning section of these IQ tests but really suck when it comes to map reading.
As someone who lives in the south of the metro (aka “the not-so-dirty south” of Paranaque), I never found the need to know what lies after Katipunan. For me it was enough to know that after EDSA, there was a huge SM that blocked my way forcing me to go either left (Mushroom Burger) or right (who knows what’s there?!?), and after Katipunan, there’s a school called UP. And that pretty much sums up 28 years of living in the Philippines.
That’s why I stick to my little niche of Paranaque, BF Homes and Makati as I fill up what I know of the not so little sandbox that is Google Map Maker.
Google Map Maker
EDIT: I had “Venus” from Google approve some of my cartography from last night with some comments such as “pls align the polygon.” So I guess it takes a little less than 24 hours to approve a few items.
Google Map Maker is not Google Maps. What it is, simply, is the “sandbox mode” of Google Maps where user-generated content populates the cartography with establishments, city landmarks, fault lines (hmmm bad for real estate companies??!!), and other objects of interest. The content is purely generated by users, and just like in Wikipedia and Digg a moderation system is enforced with checks from the community itself. When a piece of information is considered to be credible enough (via user comments and algorithms), Google moves this piece of information to Google Maps.
According to Google, organizing the world’s information entails having a better understanding of search. Since search can be traced to a geographic location, “where it is searched from” adds an entirely new dimension to your queries. Thus, Google Map Maker addresses the problem of not having high quality maps with up to date and fresh info, while giving historical information on landmarks (like demolished structures, relocated establishments and historical points of interest).
In the Philippine setting, Google Map Maker helps bring to light rural and suburban localities and their businesses with the ultimate goal of boosting commerce and tourism (searching for zoos, beaches, hotels, etc).
The process of mapping can actually be quite addicting. I’ve noticed that aside from mapping gated communities, I’ve concentrated on my niche (I’m not as hardcore as Eugene) which is to map out the locations of my favorite restaurants and bars (Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Burger Avenue, Kopi Roti, Murphy’s).
From a blogger perspective, I’m seeing that you can edit details of establishments to include photos and URL’s. So that means when you mark, say, a restaurant, you can actually enter your food review URL from your blog under the website category. Obviously, I’m not sure how this will rank in “authority” to be moved to Google Maps (this by the way does not happen overnight), but an extra bona fide public link to your post shouldn’t hurt. Besides, once the 3rd party apps get rolled out, we’re bound to see a lot of “geotagging” or “geoblogging” taking place in conjunction with the Map Maker. This was a huge request for the Google devs from people around the world and they’re very aware of the potential. No release date for these as of late (I’m not claiming that these apps will be available — I’m just saying that they make sense with the release of an API).
So why not give it a try? All you need to do is sign in with your Google account and go to http://google.com/mapmaker to map the city at your leisure.
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