Google Maps as Mapserver Layer
ed at TOPOZONE.COM
Fri Mar 2 09:24:20 EST 2007
Why is Google Earth so many orders of magnitude more popular than, say,
NASA WorldWind, (an open source product BTW)? It's not the "collection
of extremely smart programmers" that Google purchased with Keyhole -
Google Earth is wildly more popular than Keyhole was! It's because of
the market visibility Google brought, not the technical advancement.
There's nothing at all wrong with that, of course, but let's not confuse
mass-market exposure and popularization with technical achievement. In
a small way I suppose I could claim to have done the same thing for
popularizing USGS topographic maps by making them available to anyone on
the Web. It did require a bit of technical innovation, but the
popularity, appeal, and usage of an application is usually a very poor
indicator of the technical merit or innovation involved.
From: P Kishor [mailto:punk.kish at gmail.com]
Sent: Friday, March 02, 2007 12:31 AM
To: Ed McNierney
Cc: MAPSERVER-USERS at lists.umn.edu
Subject: Re: [UMN_MAPSERVER-USERS] Google Maps as Mapserver Layer
On 3/1/07, Ed McNierney <ed at topozone.com> wrote:
> Puneet -
> The chief difficulty is when cash-strapped state and local governments
> eagerly provide data to Google (much as was done with Microsoft
> TerraServer) and then think they've "solved the problem" because "look
> how everyone can get it in Google Earth!". That can make it hard to
> get funding for a state GIS program to, for example, properly set up
> and operate a WMS service for access to the same data - the
> budget-cutter wonder why they should pay for something they "already
have for free".
> There's no problem with states providing data to any private firm.
> The problem is when the providing organization misunderstands what it
> has accomplished.
Ed, I totally agree with you. My only concern is that we have to be
cautious as to what problem we focus on and try to solve. As you note
above, this is not Google's fault. They are doing what any law-abiding
business will do to maximize its raison d'etre. If anyone's it is very
much the fault of the States.
But, let's also look at it from the State's point of view. They are cash
strapped and they can't cook up the resources to make the data easily
available to everyone. Google comes by and offers them a solution, for
free. They sell their soul (figuratively... before anyone pounces on me
for saying that ;-), and they reap some positive and some negative. In
their position, I probably would do the same unless I could be shown
better alternatives. C'est la vie.
In my world-view, it is not an "open source" vs. "proprietary" fight.
I very much see a coexistence of both. I do believe strongly in open
access to intellectual property collected with public funds which, in
this case, happens to be orthos. As you mention below, some are
beginning to learn, and that is where we come in. We give them
reasonable, level-headed solutions that can demonstrate working together
with a multitude of technologies and choices while ensuring that
everyone gets a fair crack at what belong to everyone.
Google Earth and Maps are "cool tools" not because Google made them, but
simply because they indeed are cool. I do not know of any mapping site
or application that so quickly, easily, and impressively soaked into
public consciousness as Google's apps did. And not just with
Slashdot-reading geeks, but even with normal ma and pa. Google just
happens to have a collection of extremely smart programmers who also
created extremely usable tools that popularized mapping. What ESRI, or
even Mapquest and Vicinity, etc., couldn't achieve in years, even
decades, Google did in such a short time that it truly is breathtaking.
Hats off to them. And, the fact is, they could have kept it all to
themselves, but no, they opened it. This not only enriched the user
experience around their own tools, but also forced other companies and
organizations to open up and learn from them. Our own open source tools
learned from them... apps like Ka-map and Open Layers probably owe a lot
of inspiration to Google apps.
Anyway, enough on this. Thanks for listening.
> The USGS learned a few lessons in the TerraServer experience; I expect
> other organizations are simply beginning the process of re-learning
> some of those lessons all over again.
> - Ed
> Ed McNierney
> President and Chief Mapmaker
> TopoZone.com / Maps a la carte, Inc.
> 73 Princeton Street, Suite 305
> North Chelmsford, MA 01863
> Phone: +1 (978) 251-4242
> Fax: +1 (978) 251-1396
> ed at topozone.com
> -----Original Message-----
> From: UMN MapServer Users List [mailto:MAPSERVER-USERS at LISTS.UMN.EDU]
> On Behalf Of P Kishor
> Sent: Thursday, March 01, 2007 5:35 PM
> To: MAPSERVER-USERS at LISTS.UMN.EDU
> Subject: Re: [UMN_MAPSERVER-USERS] Google Maps as Mapserver Layer
> this is getting quite OT for MapServer, but what the heck --
> On 3/1/07, percy <percyd at pdx.edu> wrote:
> > I have been told directly by colleagues at both the Pennsylvania and
> > Indiana geological surveys about "giving away" the data. Google
> > seems to have feelers out for whenever new data are acquired by
> > state
> > I agree, it's not sinister! But it would be nice to have access to
> > those tiles :-)
> but, you do have access to the data. I just checked the Arkansas site
> that Paul provided below, and besides a bunch of innocuous factual
> errors, they clearly point to the repository where all that data are
> still available for anyone to use. Of course, the linked site
> <http://www.rgis.cast.uark.edu/> is non-functional, so I guess I am
> better off using Google Maps ;-)
> Think of it this way... the US has a long history of offering publicly
> collected data to anyone for no or minimal cost, and that anyone has
> the freedom to do anything they want to with that data, including
> selling it back to the US! I, for one, am very happy of this policy.
> And, so are the mapping companies, for this is what they have made
> their empires out of. The nice thing with Google is, they are giving
> it back, just doing so on their own terms. Given that they are not
> charging anything for it, at least I can live with those terms. If I
> don't like those terms, the original data, the one that Google took,
> are still there for me to take.
> I see absolutely no problem with this. If there is any, I would love
> to be educated.
> > Paul Ramsey wrote:
> > > Puneet,
> > >
> > > Sorry, don't have any particular details, just lots of anecdotal
> > > reports of public agencies giving their data to Google in order to
> > > achieve the holy grail of seeing "their data in Google Earth".
> > >
> > > http://dailyheadlines.uark.edu/7507.htm
> > >
> > > This is not uncommon, and it is not particularly sinister from a
> > > "business" point of view, since the givers are receiving what they
> > > want (access in a kewl tewl) and the givees are receiving what
> > > they want (data they can add to Google Earth for free).
> > --
> > David Percy
> > Geospatial Data Manager
> > Geology Department
> > Portland State University
> > http://gisgeek.pdx.edu
> > 503-725-3373
Puneet Kishor http://punkish.eidesis.org/ Nelson Inst. for Env. Studies,
UW-Madison http://www.nelson.wisc.edu/ Open Source Geospatial Foundation
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