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Google Maps: Making the World Smaller and More Accessible

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During the days of exploration in the 15th century up to the 18th century, navigators have to rely on juvenile maps, compass, and the stars. Mapping out their journey is a herculean task and most of the time, finding their way back is even tougher. Thousands of lives are lost in the hopes of creating maps as the people navigated years around the globe in order to create something as accurate as possible.

Now, with a click of a mouse and a few swipes on the screen, we can have accurate images of any place in the world. We can access highly detailed maps, zoom in to see buildings, look at terrain, and move our vision from one continent to another. Before driving out to a place you have never seen before, you will consult high resolution maps. Before you head out on a holiday somewhere else, you will take a look at how a place looks like so you can familiarize yourself with it and not risk getting culture shocked. Everything is just well mapped now, thanks to Google Maps.

According to John Hanke, the director of Google Earth, “It didn’t take sophisticated software. What it took was a substrate — the satellite imagery of Earth — in an accessible form and a simple authoring language for people to create and share stuff. Once that software existed, the urge to describe and annotate just took off.”

Google Maps is more than just a map. It is a collaborative work produced by different people from different places all over the world. The power of Google Maps is within the people, especially those who have taken so much interest in adventure, mapping out their location, and even those who are interested in aerial photography. Over time, Google Maps has become what it is today and in the future it will be much more detailed and highly regarded for the vast information that it gives to all.

The great thing about Google Maps is that it gets updated almost daily. It is a digital map that does not only serve those who want to know where something is but also for those who want to know what happened to a certain place.

According to Mike Liebhold, a senior researcher in Silicon Valley’s Institute for the Future, “When a large fire broke out in Georgia in April, a resident quickly built a regularly updated map showing the burn areas. In Indonesia, for which Google still has no underlying road map, someone is tracing routes over satellite photos to create his own. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum recently released an annotated layer in Google Earth that displays the Darfur genocide in horrifying geographic detail, showing burned villages and linking to photos and videos.”

It is a great source of information for everyone and therefore, Google Maps is more than just a map. It is a tool for history and it makes the world a smaller place.

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