user-generated accuracy

Now that GoYellow Maps has been live for a couple days, i find it interesting that the most common reaction is to note that the map data is out of date in some places, by between 1 and 4 years. we are not alone with this: pretty much saw the same phenomenon, and google maps encounters it too.

i am wondering if this is a trick that perception plays on us: if we see an image of sufficiently high quality, our disbelief is suspended, and we assume immediacy. case in point, when my dad first saw the nice bird’s eye pictures from MSN local, he immediately asked why the cars in the picture are not moving. while we wait for the advent of real time satellite data, the lesson seems to be that the additional precision and detail of hybrid maps make any problems with accuracy more obvious. overall, i think it is a fair trade-off given that these hybrid maps fascinate people enough to seek out these inaccuracies. i mean, when is the last time you heard someone get excited about inaccuracies in a telephone book?

it might be possible, given easy to use tools, to harness this deep local knowledge people have about their immediate surroundings. at which point you’d have yet another industry hopping onto the user-generated content bandwagon.

3 thoughts on “user-generated accuracy”

  1. Between 1 and 4 years? That’s not so bad. The data google maps uses for where I live (Glasgow, UK) has the wrong street names for places that have been there for 7 /hundred/ years.
    Curlers bar…
    …on Durness St?
    To be fair that pub moved to that particular spot in the 1600s so they might not have updated their database …
    Actually the data is pretty bad here all over; I used the map to visit a 10 year old housing estate and all the street names were wrong – so we got lost. At that point I tried contacting Multinet with a whole bunch of corrections, but got no reply. I’d love it if there was some way to feed back, I hope they take you up on this.
    Instead of which, bad data is leaking back into the real world: two weeks ago the local paper had a large advert for a flat for sale in “Durness street” – which only exists in online maps.

  2. You have a timely post Gregor, usually I lurk here but today i post…
    You got me thinking about the half-assed use of those bravenet guestmaps linked from people’s about pages on numerous blogs, and why they hardly are every populated with entries, last year when I customized the underlying map graphic with a photograph, my entries skyrocketed within days.
    It would seem an abstract or ambiguous approach also fascinates.
    An example I am trying to put together:
    Using Google Maps’ API to create a hybrid overlap onto scanned in images of hand drawn maps from the pre-columbus era. At the time, those hand drawn maps were believed to be as accurate as possible, today centuries later, we know better.
    So rather than your pop wondering why the cars ain’t moving, perhaps he may spot the Nina, The Pinta and the Santa Maria…(tongue in cheek) using a hybrid on top of time and space hybrid.
    Anyway, your brief post has given me something else to factor in.
    …still digging…

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