Google Maps has been an exhilarting product allowing many to gain a better understanding of the world around them with constant innovation. Sergey Brin noted in his annual Google Founder’s letter that “after the launch of Google Map Maker in Pakistan, users mapped 25,000 kilometers of uncharted road in just two months”. That’s pretty cool stuff. It has also been a product that seems to bring out the worst in people looking to gain a leg up with spamming and hijackings.
The Swine Flu epidemic is a perfect case in point and it shows the contradictions in Maps in bold relief. Google Maps was used to track the spread of the epidemic around the world. The major press and a bevy of blogs widely covered this beneficial use of Maps that helped inform and educate.
But given that Maps is open and easily open to abuse, there are now searches like Swine Flu NY, NY that return spam in Maps of the most exploitive sorts. SafetyGearandMore.com were not the only ones to utilize Maps for their commercial advantage as several others across the US did as well. As Dickens noted in The Tale of Two Cities:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities English novelist (1812 – 1870)
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Google Map: It is the best of times, it is the worst of times...Swine Flu and Maps
by Mike Blumenthal
ooo…great line. I had to look it up. From the Christmas Carol:
Marley’s face. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the other objects in the yard were, but had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. It was not angry or ferocious, but looked at Scrooge as Marley used to look: with ghostly spectacles turned up on its ghostly forehead. The hair was curiously stirred, as if by breath or hot air; and, though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly motionless. That, and its livid colour, made it horrible; but its horror seemed to be in spite of the face and beyond its control, rather than a part of its own expression.
As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it was a knocker again.
Well, as you know, I am in favor of making my own karma for maps
Comment by Mike (2503 comments) — May 11, 2009 @ 4:16 pm
Bingo, Mike! When I was growing up, my family read The Christmas Carol aloud annually, with the result that everyone memorized most of it over the years. It was a lovely occasion, complete with bowls of nuts and oranges to get us properly through the absolutely mouthwatering descriptions of the grocers’ shops with their bounty of food. My father is a great admirer of Mr. Dickens and reads most of his books yearly. His favorite is Pickwick Papers.
Ah, Dickens…a hero of the idiom, a welcome respite from the utilitarian language of our present day.