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Participatory Mapping: New Data, New Cartography by Jean-Christophe Plantin

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3

A Participant in the Web of Platform

Online maps do not operate with the same archi-text as GIS; instead, they rely on application programming interfaces (APIs) to produce mashups. These types of maps are part of the contemporary Web, where platforms have a more significant role than hyperlinks. In this context, considering maps in relation to the properties of the contemporary Web helps us to understand why Google, whose mapping API is currently dominating the market, is interesting for geographical information. After exploring the history of online maps with their technical properties, we shall see that this model of maps is not the only one available. For instance, OpenStreetMap (OSM) distinguishes itself from Google Maps in that it proposes to “liberate” maps from commercial interests by providing a geographical database available open data.

3.1. Technical architecture of Web maps

As Jason Farman claims, visualizing a surface on Google Earth is more like adding a picture on a Website such as MySpace or Facebook, than creating filters with GIS [FAR 10, p.881]. This assertion is also true for mashup-type maps. What are the technical characteristics of online maps and how do they relate to other contemporary Web applications?

3.1.1. First online maps

The first online mapping systems appeared in 1993 a short time after the World Wide Web [HAK 08, p.2013], as simple mapping applications. Their role consisted mainly of displaying maps online. The first mapping Websites had three ...

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