Reclaim the Street Map!

Rather than doing unpaid corporate cartography,
join us in mapping the world together as a publicly shared resource.

In April 19th 2011 Google announced its new Google Mapmaker expedition to send its users to map the US. This would seem like a great innovative platform for mapping our streets together for those who don’t know that a service like this have actually existed since 2004. Open Street Map is a great collaborative project which Google chose to compete against rather than collaborate with.

In Google Mapmaker, all of your edits would belong to Google. In Open Street Map all of our edits belong to everybody who agrees to equally share them. Google preferred to keep its map proprietary and to prevent equal access to it from those who created it, which it ironically calls “citizen cartographers”. It is sad to say that even Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL are working in collaboration with the public through Open Street Map rather than create a proprietary competitor. Think about it, it’s like undermining Wikipedia by editing a Googipedia instead…

A year of edits in Open Street Maps


You probably understand this conflict of interests and would choose to draw your streets in our map. But Google, being Google has a much wider outreach and can easily mislead people about “The Meaning of Open”. Therefore I made a very small browser plugin to install on your mom’s browser to protect her from cartographic exploitation by a corporate entity.

The plugin in action: An opportunity to rethink which map to draft

What Reclaim the Street Map! does is simply send an alert when opening Google Mapmaker and suggests using Open Street Map instead. If approved, it would redirect to OpenStreetMap.org if not, it would stay on the page. Simple.

So until Google chooses to do less evil, to be a good citizen and to not exploit your mom, please…

install the plugin
plugins available for 3 different browsers

For transparency’s sake this is the Javascript code that the plugin would run on google.com/mapmaker:

var r=confirm(
  'Reclaim the street Map!' + '\n' +
  'Rather than doing unpaid corporate cartography, join us in mapping the world together as a publicly shared resource.'
);
if (r==true) {
  alert('Great choice! Redirecting to OpenStreetMap.org');
  window.location.href='http://openstreetmap.org';
}
else {
  alert('Interesting choice, good luck!');
}

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One Comment

  1. Posted Jun 13, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    More than 2 years after I wrote this I still stand behind any word of this post. Recently my own experience have ironically led me directly into the conflict of crowdsourced map editing for Google.
    Since September 2012 I have been leading the interactive map design efforts at Waze.com. Waze is a mobile routing app that uses passive and active location-aware data to dynamically draw a road map of the world. Waze data is community driven, but it is not open.
    Two days ago Waze was acquired for 1.1 Billion Dollars. By Google. Hmm…

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