I like maps and nautical charts. There’s something about them. For instance, this map says a lot to me, it’s where I used to play on the beach as a kid…
Recently I stumbled across iMap for the particular part of PNW where we live. iMap has a huge amount of data; far more than is typical with regular mapping services. My favorite map set at the moment is the one showing King County parks – great for planning a quick outdoor excursion.
But raw data isn’t everything. The Ordnance Survey (OS) delivers what I think is the best (read clearest) mapping around. There’s nothing quite like an OS Explorer, and Get-A-Map is great for exploring on-line. They even have wall paper (of the computer desktop kind) for when you’re missing the outdoors.
I’ve been intrigued by OpenStreetMap, an effort to collect mapping data that can be repurposed without infringing on restrictions placed on other sources of mapping data. But it’s not just the raw geographical data that you get with an OS map. The value is in the data and the presentation. After all, anyone can go out and survey, all that has changed with OpenStreetMap is that GPS devices are ubiquitous enough to make accurate data collection easy, and web-based social networks make it possible for many like-minded people to work together. The interesting question is whether the availability of quality raw geographical data will promote some stellar cartography, or will the existing incumbents continue to provide enough value to justify charging for the map.
Speaking of maps, two bits of news recently crossed my radar. local.live.com has updated 3D content – including parts of the UK and added support for Firefox. There’s lots of other stuff, including area and drawing tools and improved traffic info. More at http://virtualearth.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!2BBC66E99FDCDB98!8495.entry. Also Google just launched my Maps – check out the post on Ars Technica for details – they do a much better job than I would.