Above, a map of the "Square and Stationary Earth" (1893) by a Professor Orlando Ferguson of Hot Springs, South Dakota. Read the rest
The most common way of representing Africa on maps and globes dramatically understates the size of the continent. Read the rest
Struck by a succession of abusive scrawlings going live on its popular maps service, Google has apologized and promised to retool the service to prevent it from happening in future.
"This week, we had some problems with Google Maps, which was displaying results for certain offensive search queries," wrote Jen Fitzpatrick, a Vice President of Engineering and Product Development, explaining how Google's system slurped up the offensive terms because of how it incorporates "online discussions" of particular places. "… This surfaced inappropriate results that users likely weren’t looking for."
Earlier this week, it was found that when given offensive search terms, Google would return inappropriate locations. Queried with "nigga house," for example, Google would offer the White House.
Howard University, reported one internet user, "shows up as ‘N***er University’ on Google Maps."
The benefits of algorithmic changes will be seen soon, Fitzpatrick promised, and Google will continue to refine its software over time: "Simply put, you shouldn’t see these kinds of results in Google Maps, and we’re taking steps to make sure you don't."
Maps, like much in the Googleverse, is comprised significantly of information added by users or algorithmically incorporated into its dataset—unvetted and often dependent on community reporting when something goes awry.
Google recently shuttered another crowdsourced component of Google Maps due to repeated addition of naughty and offensive landscape features that were not, in fact, there. Read the rest
Does U.S. President Obama share office space with an outfit called "Edwards Snow Den"? No, he does not, which—among many similar instances of "vandalism"—is why Google Maps is mothballing its Map Maker feature.
Google's Pavithra Kanakarajan writes:
As some of you know already, we have been experiencing escalated attacks to spam Google Maps over the past few months. The most recent incident was particularly troubling and unfortunate - a strong user in our community chose to go and create a large scale prank on the Map. As a consequence, we suspended auto-approval and user moderation across the globe, till we figured out ways to add more intelligent mechanisms to prevent such incidents.
You can explore it interactively for free and download a jumbo wallpaper JPEG, but the print edition is $250. Read the rest
Map maker Javier Arce created a world map locating 212 cities referenced in 7,681 pop songs. Click on a city and you can instantly play the related songs through Spotify.
To create this map Javier extracted a list of the cities with their respective countries and created a table. Then he geocoded that table to get the position of each city on the map.
Next, he extracted all the song information in the main article using regular expressions and infinite amounts of patience. It generated a CSV file that he imported into his CartoDB account. Javier ended up having a table that contained the name of the song, the author, and the city.
They've 700,000 miles, but mostly the same few thousand miles, over and over again -- because the cars only work if every single light, piece of street furniture, and other detail is mapped and verified by armies of human and computer analysts, and when anything changes, the mapping needs to be re-created. Read the rest
Thinking of moving and wondering whether your new state's chief executive is a climate-denier? Read the rest