Beyond just a ‘Map’

This morning, I came across another dose of my Apple maps debate. We’ve been continuously going back and forth about how bad the data on iOS6 maps are and that it’s a shame that Apple is doing this to their customers. To be fair, making a map, a base layer, is not a tiny task. Nor it is something that a team of 50 can pull together in 3 months. It takes rigorous learning and efficient processes to build a map which ‘delivers’ what people want. It’s not about building a map that looks good on the phone. It’s about building the geospatial data repository where you find what you are looking for.

The whole new ‘Social Map’ phenomenon is making me think that we are attempting the Borgesian map. In 1946, Jorge Luis Borges published a short story on how the map of an empire got too accurate and exact enough that anything smaller than the representation equivalent to the size of the empire will be considered incorrect – ‘a scale of a mile to the mile’.

May be we are not attempting it to be of that size, which quite clearly is impossible, but where we are heading is a bit scary – the map where you will find anything you want – you will see where your friends are – you will see what you would want to do next. Trust me, I’ve seen my friends in trouble after they started using Google Latitude.

The amount of detail that people want on the map makes me cringe at times. I leave it here for everyone else to think.

And yes, the Curiosity Rover checked in from Mars!

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