Monday, October 13, 2008

Statements that come back to haunt you

Just read this article in Forbes, which says:
"I laugh when I hear that you can make a map by community input alone," says Tele Atlas founder De Taeye. He says that if tens of thousands of users travel a road without complaining, then Tele Atlas can be fairly certain that its map of the road is correct.
The first statement is demonstrably false already (see my earlier post about Oxford University and OpenStreetMap for just one example). But then it's a little bizarre that he follows that up by saying that the reason they know that their data is correct is through (lack of) feedback from the community. I've done my share of interviews and it's quite possible that these two statements were taken out of context, but it's an odd juxtaposition. I'm sure the owners of Encyclopedia Britannica laughed at the notion that you could produce a comparable online encyclopedia by community input alone, but they aren't laughing any more and are even moving to accommodate community input, as are most of the main mapping data providers of course (including Tele Atlas).

Community input isn't the answer to all data creation and maintenance problems, but it provides an excellent solution in a number of areas already, and the extent of its applicability will increase rapidly.

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