02.23.06

More advice to Google about maps

Posted in Maps, Technology trends at 11:06 pm by ducky

Because all the data associated with Google Maps goes through Google, they can keep track of that information. If they wanted to, they could store enough information to tell you what the most map markers within two miles of 1212 W. Springfield, Urbana, Illinois were. Maybe one would be from Joe’s Favorite Bars mashup and maybe one would be from the Museums of the World mashup. Maybe fifty would show buildings on the university of Illinois campus from the official UIUC mashup, and maybe two would be from Josie’s History of Computing mashup.

Google could of course then use that mashup data in their location-sensitive queries, so if I asked for “history computing urbana il”, they would give me Josie’s links instead of returning the Urbana Free Library. (They would need to be careful in how they did this in a way that didn’t tromp on Josie, if they want to stick to their “Don’t be evil” motto.)

This is another argument for why they should recognize a vested interest in making it easy for developers to add their own area-based data. If Google allows people to easily put up information about specific polygons, then Google can search those polygons. Right now, because I had to do my maps as overlays, Google can’t pull any information out of them.

If Google makes polygons and their corresponding data easy to name, identify, and access, they will be able to do very powerful things in the future.

Addendum: I haven’t reverse-engineered the Google Maps javascript — I realized that it’s quite possible that the marker overlays are all done on the client side.  (Desirable and likely, in fact.)  In that case, they wouldn’t have the data.  However, it would be trivial to insert some code to send information about the markers up to the server.  Would that be evil?  I’m not sure.

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