Tuesday, June 18, 2013

mapsengine Lite

Google Maps has been undergoing some changes and improvements over the last little while.  For years, I have used the My Places features in Maps to create maps and geospatial learning activities.  It has been wonderful.

It currently looks like it is changing.  Google recently release https://mapsengine.google.com/map/ which allows users to generate simple 3 layer maps for personal and non-profit purposes.  Now don't be mislead by the term 'simple' these maps are simple in comparison with what some complex and expensive mapping systems can do, but they are more capable than the features in the My Places currently available.  While My Places allows multiple maps to be displayed at the same time and it currently appears that Mapsengine will not allow multiple maps.  This means that before I could create unlimited personal Layers, but now I can create multiple layers to share with others.  There are also features available in Google Earth and the Google Maps API for business that can be paid for.  There are options for getting some of these on an educational grant basis

The big take home here isn't actually the features or a comparison, but it's the fact that we have a tool that far exceeds what any previous generation has had for creating maps.  Like so many other things, the skills, tools, and capacities of the everyman(and everywoman) have been expanded.  In generations past it took vast training, high level skills both technical and theoretical to create accurate maps.  Now like photography, video editing, mathematics, arithmetic and web design, there are freely available tools that allow each of us to do more.  It is wonderful to live in a time where more and more is created to allow everyone to do more.

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