Internet mapping is 'wiping Britain off the map'

Internet cartographic resources provided by online corporate giants is wiping the rich geography and history of Britain off the map

Speaking at last week’s annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), Spence warned that the focus of Internet maps on providing driving directions means that thousands of features making up the traditional British landscape are not being included. The whereabouts of the thousands of churches, ancient woodlands, stately homes and eccentric landmarks could disappear from public consciousness, she said.

Speaking at a special session on the Future of the Map, Spence also said that corporate cartographers are demolishing thousands of years of history at a stroke, by not including them on electronic maps that are being used by millions of motorists on an every day basis. “We’re in real danger of losing what makes maps so unique; giving us a feel for a place even if we’ve never been there.”

This ‘corporate blankwash’ is not going unopposed. Projects such as Open Street Map have encouraged thousands of Britons to contribute their local knowledge in order to map pubs, landmarks and even post boxes online.

Ed Parsons, geospatial technologist at Google and also speaking at the conference, commented: “The Internet is revolutionising map making. We’re moving towards a future where interactive maps will display precisely the information people want, when they want it. It’s adding a whole new dimension, literally, to cartography: now anyone can create their own maps or use their experiences to collaborate with others in charting their local knowledge. In the future, no two maps will be the same, and this is something we should embrace.”

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