Google is slowly turning its Maps application into a wiki and that looks to be a very good thing. Sidewalk—and later Citysearch—only ever had enough staffing resources to scrape the surface of any particular city. Google Maps, on the other hand, has the entire online populace at the ready. While Citysearch in recent years has opened its site to community reviews, it has not given users control over all the data. That's where Google Maps is headed.
Log in to your Google account and you can edit any place on the map. If a restaurant moved to the other side of town, you can drag the pointer to its new location. If it closed altogether, you can make that note. You can add keywords, change the phone number, and write your own reviews. You can even add an entirely new location for everyone to see, whether it's a dog run or a movie theater.
The major (and as yet unanswered) question, of course, is how Google intends to police against malicious editors. So far, they're displaying the history of all edits made to a particular point to keep pertinent information from disappearing. What happens when a location has dozens of edits? Are users expected to sort through the chaff to find the wheat? It sound like a temporary solution to a problem that has not yet been well thought out; but if successful, the wikified version would be a major boon.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.