"Google Maps is changing the way we see the world," journalist Evan Ratliff declares in a June article for Wired magazine. I couldn't agree more. Google's universal mapping project isn't just changing the portals for viewing the world online, it's also changing offline understandings of how the world is best viewed--from Google's services, of course. Google has gained influence fast, by ambitiously developing innovative, interactive mapping software; integrating multiple online services into the majority of desktop and online apps; and familiarizing users with a particular Google-branded aesthetic.
In creating a suite of map apps to encourage users to contribute to Google's greater project and personalize locally-stored versions of a map, Google is not just bringing cartography to the masses, Ratliff points out, but is getting users to help build out its universe. This, of course, makes complete sense. With Google Earth, Google SketchUp, and MyMaps (watch the CNET News.com "how-to" video,) Google's mapping software has surpassed competitors like NASA in digitizing the world. In so doing, Google has captivated the imagination of loyal users who will return to the company's Earth and maps programs to find business listings, explore culturally significant architecture, and plant personal photos and videos.… Read more