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Two questions for Google Maps

Google Maps now (well, I just noticed) lets anyone add a place marker that is visible to all other users. Their example is a spot in a SF park where there’s open air dancing.

I’ll be interested in following two questions: 1. How will policy evolve to handle abuse and edge cases? 2. How will the system be hacked?

1. What controls is Google going to have to introduce to keep maps from being polluted with markers such as “Best pizza in town,” “Marcie the Slut lives here” and “[enter your choice of slur]town”?

As of now, Google lists two types of controls. First, some listings are protected, either because they’re hospitals or government buildings, or because the owners of a business have “claimed” the listing; Google does some form of verification before awarding ownership. Second, there’s a “report abuse” button which sends the listing to a moderation process.

I hope that that’s sufficient. But what about edge cases? If grieving parents mark the spot on the road where their child was killed, will Google count that as abuse and remove it? Historical markers? Celebrity homes? Notices of where events will be held? Treasure hunt clues?

2. Related to the first: How will people creatively hack the system, not to bring it down (the bad hacking) but to use it in ways Google didn’t anticipate (the good hacking)? For example, maybe citizens will mark potholes, possibly giving the text a distinctive, findable tag. Or educational walks. Or the rankings of public schools. Or all the places there was a death by gun. Or a link to a Flickr query that aggregates photos from that spot. Or the ten million better ideas that everyone else will have.

It’ll be fun to watch. [Tags: ]

7 Responses to “Two questions for Google Maps”

  1. Back in August 2007, I created a map with place markers in celebration of the 100th Anniversary of my grandfather’s birth to share with family.

    This was using the “My Maps” feature. A more “private” use of the tool.

  2. I created a google map for my bed and breakfast and some places in the El Yunque rainforest of interest. I did it after I tried to get my business listed the official way and Google placed me in the center of the nearest town instead of up in the rainforest where we actually are. Later we had guests who worked for Google (really interesting scientists) and they promised to fix our map location (someone called me from Google but so far if you search for “rainforestinn” it still puts me in town so I don’t know. Anyway I think the feature of placing your own markers is great and I’m glad Google (like wikipedia) is trusting enough to allow it.

    My place marker has more than 300 hits so far:

    Rainforestinn’s Google Earth Location

    PS: I found your blog because I blog about my bed and breakfast ( <a href= “http://mpblog.rainforestinn.com” myblog.rainforestinn.com ) and you come up in a search for bed and breakfast blogs right near the top.

  3. The link should have been blog about running our bed and breakfast — sorry no way to edit a posted comment. Love your blog by the way.

  4. seams like the answers are already in your comments : )

    there s just no way to control
    we mess up everything all the time
    isn t it ?

  5. Another example of “private” use of Google Maps could be found here. This is Marge Simpson map of the places The Simpons visited in their episodes:

    http://www.triptouch.com/user/MargeSimpson/trips

  6. Boston is using Google Maps to plan bike routes by looking at popular streets for biking as used by cyclists and to rate streets for bike friendliness: http://www.streetsblog.org/2008/03/06/bike-network-20/

  7. yeah, there’s already a site that uses google maps to “pin-point” the dwellings of sex offenders. and another i noticed that just points to lousy neighbours. “meth house, noise all the time, driving on the lawn”, etc.

    but i guess these are “private” maps. i will have to try and place a marker on the public one and see how far i can push it.

    unfortunately, or fortunately, here in the french countryside the satellite maps only get so close… nothing near the detail of the maps of where i grew up, in new england. and certainly no “street views”, that i know of.


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