Wow, another terrific Google product who’s value has yet to be determined. Google Mapmaker turns mapping into Social Media. This is a service that has been available in other countries for a few years (from what I have read) and is only now available in the U.S.
As long as you have a Google user id (which you do if you’ve used any of Google’s other services), you can add your own information about a location near you and have it available to all of Google’s millions of users around the world whenever they are looking at a map that covers that location.
That’s right, as in all social media, Google offers you a chance for fame and immortality. (Of course your fame might be limited to 2 or 3 people who actually read your edit, and your immortality might only last for a day or two, but who’s counting?)
More importantly, like Wikipedia or Epinions, Google now allows the community to create content that they use to improve their ad-generating efforts. Yes, I know that sounds a bit sarcastic and cynical, and of course it is, but I’m not such a Luddite as to think that there are not awesome benefits to the community in having rich detail embedded in a map that you can access on your phone or computer from anywhere in the world.
I think that beats old fashioned map-making hands down (although it has none of the adventure and nostalgia that accompanies the aura of pioneering cartographers).
And, if you are really attuned to veiled hypocrisy, you might notice that I’ve linked to Wikipedia, which provides community-generated content, in order to bolster the authority of my own website, which is devoted to a commercial endeavor. All of which is indisputable. So I guess the bottom line is that we are in a symbiotically parasitic society. Hurrah for the webospehere!