The Rise of the Amateur Mapmaker

The explosion of amateur mapmaking opened up by online services like Google Earth has expanded the reach of maps for a variety of uses. Professional mapmakers, on the other hand, foresee problems of quality and accuracy.
October 6, 2008, 10am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"Much of the story of map-making over the past five years centres on the rise of amateurs [...]. Using powerful online mapping tools, they are redefining the millenniums-old field of cartography, earning both critics and admirers in the process.

Their products are not maps in the traditional sense, but mash-ups, which combine traditional charts - hosted by mammoth tech companies such as Google and Microsoft - with some unusual spatial data: UFO sightings, public toilet locations or the whereabouts of England's worst potholes, to name a few.

'We call it the democratization of spatial data,' said Sally Hermansen, senior instructor in the University of British Columbia's department of geography. 'They are redefining how we think about the world, how we organize the world.'"

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Published on Friday, October 3, 2008 in The Globe and Mail
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