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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Google and Microsoft Want Your Stuff

Sorry about the title, after George Carlin’s death they replayed the bit on “a place for your stuff” and it just fit. In recent hours both companies have opened up new ways for people and organizations to share their geographic data and knowledge in Google Maps and Microsoft Virtual Earth.

Google’s MapMaker (introduction on LatLong blog, tour) is a tool for those with knowledge of specific countries to “fill in the gaps” where the company does not have data. There’s no option for such additions or edits in much of the world.

Microsoft is asking localities to share their aerial imagery via GoVE (no website, but introduced on the Virtual Earth, an Evangelist’s Blog). That’s not new; the company was thinking about it way back in 2005, but the data was to be kept in the public domain as I noted at the time.

The most interesting part of these invitations is the response from those in the geospatial community. (OpenGeoData on Google MapMaker [SteveC], James Fee on Microsoft’s GoVE). The concern is about making the data as available as possible, which neither of these options really allow. Both initiatives put the data behind specific licensing arrangements that may make widespread and commercial use of the data impossible. (MapMaker Terms of Use, GoVE data follows the same rules as Virtual Earth data) Commentators suggest considering OpenStreetMap and OpenAerialMap (with or without using the Google and Microsoft options) to keep data more free and useable.

While these programs have seemingly been going on, if informally, for some time, formalizing them perhaps marks another milestone in Web 2.0 geospatial development. One milestone was mashups and widgets built around APIs. Datasets are part of these,  but data was owned by whoever owned it. At this milestone the companies are making the data their own in quite a different way.

One other thought: I wonder how Google will note that street data came from “users” vs. data companies? I already know how Microsoft will source imagery because it states that clearly in its FAQ in the blog post noted above.

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/24 at 07:20 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

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