Google’s Mapping Party Kit: Don’t Make Me Laugh

10:09 pm PHT

I love Google and all, but allow me to be snarky yet again at Google for introducing their Mapping Party Kit late last month. A Google Mapping Party is an event where you invite people to a venue, give them a presentation on Google Map Maker, and them let them try their hand at mapping their locality. The Mapping Party Kit is a simple reference website for anyone who wants to throw a Mapping Party. The site contains sample invitation letters, an agenda example, a presentation, and links to other resources such as Google blog posts about Map Maker.

What’s funny is that Google obviously ripped off the concept of a “mapping party” from OpenStreetMap (OSM) without any sort of attribution. OSM has had such events since at least 2006. What’s different is that since the classic mapping methodology in OSM is to go out and collect data using GPS devices, an OpenStreetMap Mapping Party incorporates actually going out and recording data on the ground. Google’s Mapping Party has no such walking or driving or cycling since their main mapping methodology is tracing over satellite imagery.

What’s even funnier is the fact that Google Map Maker has built-in moderation. Google’s Mapping Parties are targeted to mapping newbies and thus practically every edit these novices make will need moderation. I’ve used Google Map Maker and I can tell you how frustrating the moderating process is. (One particularly irritating thing about the moderation is that you can’t edit a connecting element to a feature that you’ve just edited and needing moderation.) I can imagine that the moderation will put a huge damper on the joy of mapping during the party unless you have a high “trusted”-moderator-to-newbie ratio.

Google’s Mapping Party concept is so laughable that it has actually been satirized in the blog of Fake Ed Parsons. The real Ed Parsons is the Geospatial Technologist of Google.

Anyway, I do like to point you to the sample presentation included in the Mapping Party Kit. The third part (Live demo of Google Map Maker) uses the Philippines activity in Map Maker as examples. The fourth part even prominently highlights Wayne del Dell Manuel, a former Wikipedian and possibly one of the most prolific Filipino Map Maker user users.

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On 11:18 a.m., 19 May 2009, Wayne wrote:

Wayne Dell Manuel

From what I know, Leonel Foronda and Dante Varias are more prolific than me.

I wanted to attend your OpenStreetMap party because I’m here in the Philippines for a month but I’m here in Tacloban right now.


On 7:56 p.m., 19 May 2009, maning wrote:

Just curious, did any mapping party in GMapMmaker happened here in the Philippines?


On 8:53 p.m., 19 May 2009, Andre Marcelo-Tanner wrote:

So how can you map new areas if its only via satellite imagery? and what about where Google’s imagery is known to be off by quite a lot in some areas?


On 11:11 a.m., 20 May 2009, seav wrote:

Wayne, whoops, I corrected the inaccurate info. Anyway, I would have said that there will be other mapping parties in the future that you can attend, but I think you’ll be back in Singapore by then, am I right? BernieMack is actually interested to meet OpenStreetMappers as well.

maning, I haven’t heard of any and I don’t think there has been.

Andre, to Google’s credit, they added an “Overlay” button to Google Map Maker where you can add a KML or an image overlay to trace on. So anyone can actually do it OSM style, convert the GPS traces to KML, then use that to cover areas without high-resolution imagery. But the misaligned satellite imagery is a valid point. There’s no way in Google Map Maker to temporarily move the underlying satellite imagery to line up with good GPS traces. OSM’s Potlatch and JOSM can easily do this.

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