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The Emerging "Geoweb" -The World Map as Living Organism

Darfurgoogleearth_2Unlike NASA's map of the Universe, there are no more "white spaces" on the map of our planet.

What there is, however, is an intricate new human-created strata of annotation and personal discovery that's changing the very nature of cartography and personal terrestrial vision with the new tools created over the past two years by map providers like Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo.

They have created tools that let anyone with an Internet connection layer their own geographic obsessions on top of ever-more-detailed road maps and satellite images. A myriad of collaborative annotation projects have appeared — not to mention thousands of mashups — that plot text, links, data, and even wildlife and earth sounds onto every available blank space on the digital globe.

It's become a sprawling, networked live evolving organism best described as a "geoweb."

In the new Google would of GeoMaps a scan of Rome, hundreds of small hyperlocal icons pop up on the screen. Pointing at one brings up a text bubble identifying a location of interest created by a volunteer army of amateur cartographers.

A historic, moving example of the live geoweb is recent release by The US Holocaust Memorial Museum of an annotated layer in Google Earth that displays the Darfur genocide in horrifying geographic detail, showing burned villages and linking to photos and videos.

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