Atemporal and ahistorical Google Maps?

Online maps ‘wiping out history’:

Internet mapping is wiping the rich geography and history of Britain off the map, the president of the British Cartographic Society has said.
Mary Spence said internet maps such as Google and Multimap were good for driving but left out crucial data people need to understand a landscape.
Mrs Spence was speaking at the Institute of British Geographers conference in London.
Google said traditional landmarks were still mapped but must be searched for.
Ms Spence said landmarks such as churches, ancient woodlands and stately homes were in danger of being forgotten because many internet maps fail to include them….

Really? Is this true? Aren’t Google Maps including a LOT of information? What do you think?


9 responses to “Atemporal and ahistorical Google Maps?

  1. Mrs Spence should stop complaining and start submitting data to google. KLM files aren’t exactly difficult.
    Seriously, you’d think the president of the British Cartographic Society would be in a good position to help google make sure those landmarks and such aren’t left out. A call for cartographers to collaborate with google would be much more useful.

  2. Matt Hussein Platte

    It’s getting harder to see Google Earth terrain for all the photographs and external links. Not that that’s a bad thing.

  3. I came here to say pretty much what travc said – if they’re really worried about that information disappearing, they should publish it.
    I don’t think they want to, though – unless I’m confused (which is admittedly a possibility) isn’t this the government organization which insists that you can’t have their data unless you “buy” it from them?
    (Is Britain the Anti-US or something? US: You can’t have healthcare unless you pay, but you CAN have USGS mapping data since you’ve already paid for it with your taxes. Britain: You can have free healthcare, but you have to pay someone for mapping data.)

  4. My fine public institution of higher learning is a large gray area on Google Maps when in map view. The streets lead to it, some of the surrounding buildings are mapped but for the most part we are just a label. Finding an individual building is difficult at best. So when visitors want to know how to get to the building I’m in, I point them to a googlepages HTML page I made that calls up the campus on Google maps. This page has a list of all the buildings with color coded markers and HTML pop up windows that provide them with additional information. This complaint is simply laziness on her part and an unwillingness to adapt to new technology. If an Art Historian can do it, so can you.

  5. Oops!! Forgot to close the HTML tags for the map. BTW – be sure to change the image to “map” view (default is satellite) to understand the problem. I have versions with path from light rail station and parking garages too.

  6. There is Google Mapmaker now:

  7. The suggestion offered by several posters raises some questions. People speak of Google as if it were some public institution like USGS or NOAA. There’s an assumption that the data that Google provides is truly public information in the way that maps from USGS or weather data from NOAA are, when in fact the use of Google map data is very limited.
    Much of Google maps data is provided by private third parties already (mostly from proprietary resellers of USGS and GPS data like NAVTEQ). Which raises a bigger issue than that raised by Ms. Spence: the privatization of mapping information that we all rely on.

  8. Followup: I was confused: I was thinking of the Ordnance Survey, not the “British Cartographic Society”.
    Still, the point stands – if they want to do something about this, they should encourage the publication of the disappearing data. Although it’s not the only one, KML is a documented and apparently freely-usable format for this kind of thing. The fact that the format can be directly used in Google Earth or Google Maps as-is is a nice bonus but doesn’t tie it directly to those services (which as Shawn points out has certain proprietary restrictions attached to its use). NASA’s “Worldwind” program can also work with KML, as can KDE’s Marble.

  9. On the one hand, I agree that Google Maps could be a lot better than it is, and include more information that it does, particularly if the interface was changed slightly. Allowing the user to select types of landmarks to display, as I have seen in other maps, would make it easier to display a lot of information without covering the maps in icons.
    On the other hand, I a gree with Travc and Onkel Bob, and furthermore state that I don’t think Google’s lack of extra information is a serious problem, certainly nothing like the paranoid delusions Mary Spence spouts.