GIS doyenne Adena Schutzberg has another stimulating editorial out in Directions magazine. Today, she tries to reconcile the boundless enthusiasm us mapping civilians have for mashups and Google Earth with an apparent sense in the GIS community that this isn’t anything special, so why the hype?
I do not mean to be insulting, but this is the “lowest level” of geographic analysis; it’s basic mapping.
She explains where this enthusiasm by non GIS pros might come from:
I’m more and more convinced that what we take for granted as basic geocoding/mapping is “indistinguishable from magic” for many. That, in turn, draws many people to it like bees to flowers. Hence, the hype and the widespread need to touch and use and “ogle” each new application.
I think she misses the point in this particular case, however. The most important aspect of the mass mapping “revolution” of the past 6 months has not been the trickling down of wonderful GIS technologies to the grateful masses. Rather, what’s genuinely new is that the collaborative, social model that defines Web 2.0 has finally been applied to mapmaking. That’s truly never happened before, and it leads to all kinds of wonderful cumulative results that could not previously have been created by a comparatively small band of GIS professionals.
It’s not the technology, fundamentally, but the interaction that is causing this hype. It’s about mass mapping as a means to a social end.
Segue this article in USA Today, which maintains precisely this point when it comes to Google Earth.