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The Masses Make Maps

The practice of cartography has been opened to the masses thanks to a series of simple mapping tools introduced by Web companies. Anyone can draw on or add text, images, sound and videos to maps. The result is that users now are "collectively creating a new kind of atlas that is likely to be both richer and messier than any other."

They're also playing a more important role in how information is organized and found. For example, for the environmentally inclined, there are maps of biodiesel fueling stations in New England, yarn stores in Illinois and hydrofoils around the world. Other maps show practical current information, such as road construction, collapsed highways and speed-trap locations.

Maps can also be useful in flagging community issues. James Lamb of Federal Way, Wash., created a map to illustrate the spread of graffiti in his town, asking others to contribute to it. What we have here is a map-making movement similar to Wikipedia.

Read the whole story at The New York Times »

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