Google have launched MapMaker, a kind of faux OpenStreetMap where they own all the data and you’re only allowed to map in certain Freedom Of Speech Zones.
Like Knol, the mooted ‘wikipedia killer’, Google refuse to acknowledge existing communities, trample on their hard work and lack the mindset to engage with an open project.
But, this really doesn’t matter.
What’s fascinating is that they haven’t set themselves up against OpenStreetMap so much but rather TeleAtlas/TomTom, NAVTEQ/Nokia and AND. This is really a swipe at things like TomTom’s MapShare(TM) and ANDs Map 2.0. The question is now going to be, when do they switch on editing of existing data markets, if at all? Only those with intimate knowledge of the contracts will know.
The fundamental reasons for OpenStreetMap remain intact and if anything are now stronger. At first glance it sounds like OpenStreetMap, until you realise that Google own that data you give them, there’s no community and you are unlikely to see use of the data in ‘creative, productive, or unexpected ways’.
Some things MapMaker lacks might include our awesome open RESTful API (before REST was sexy), Osmarender (the open tile rendering distributed stack), cycle maps (showing how powerful community data can be), Community events list longer than your arm, dumps of all the data and of course Germans.
If you contribute to Google MapMaker, you are contributing to one single map view that looks how Google wants it to look. If you contribute to OpenStreetMap, you are contributing to a myriad of possibilities … most not even thought of yet. The cycle map is a good example.
Google very kindly sponsored our first conference (and you should come to our second which they didn’t) but if they wish to turn it in to an us or them, then it is us!