No, it doesn't sound like Wikipedia will be taking on Google Maps anytime soon, but last week "software engineer Max Semenik announced that the organization has created a GeoData extension that will include a centralized, structured catalog of geo-coordinates for articles," reports Henry Grabar. "More than 500,000 Wikipedia articles — approximately 5 percent of the site's content — already contain geographical information, but this new initiative will streamline data storage, enabling programmers to mine and map the data quickly and easily through the API."
So what does this mean for us? By more thoroughly geotagging the most popular encyclopedia on the Internet, a treasure trove of information will become available to programmers and entrepreneurs.
"The first appearance of the new GeoData extension is in a mobile add-on called 'Nearby,' which shows users a list of nearby Wikipedia entries. (To activate 'Nearby,' select 'Settings' from the drop-down menu on the Wikipedia Mobile site, then activate 'Beta' mode, save, and then activate 'Here Be Dragons' mode. 'Nearby' will appear in the drop-down menu.)"
"This software is a pretty simple beginning," says Grabar, "but it's easy to see how interesting it could get."