Google is continuing to promote Map Maker, an open-source map-making tool. Their most recent advance is a “crowdsourced guide for Google Map Maker” that lets users create guides in a wiki-like fashion.
The Recent Push for Google Map Maker
Google Map Maker was first launched in 2008, but this year has seen a strong push of new projects and promotions. Google holds up Map Maker as a tool designed to help users help their communities, especially in third-world countries where publicly available maps haven’t been created.
The barrier to popular use seems to be education; Google’s promotions earlier this year focused on teaching users how to use the tool, then encouraging those users to become a community resource. Now all Map Maker users can be part of an even broader community education effort, with the help of “Map Makerpedia.”
Makerpeda lets users make additions and edits on a variety of guides, which range from 101 material on using Map Maker to in-depth guides on specialized tasks, like mapping a local university. Map Makerpedia also highlights some of the major charitable projects from Google that have been built with Map Maker, including flood and disease mapping.
It’s easy to see the financial gain in crowdsourcing information (it’s free help), but Google gets other benefits as well. Map Maker users become more ingrained in the community when they make contributions, and all potential contributors have barriers to entry torn down.
Not every site or company can create a wiki project, but for may groups, Google’s model sets a great example. Letting your staff or clients create and edit pages lowers costs and expands resources, all while building loyalty.
[Sources include: The Google.org Blog]