A few months back, we had a story about the problems people were having with online maps from places like Mapquest. That article focused specifically on the routes suggested to get to a small seaside town in California - where the routes sent people over a dirt road that was far from safe. Now, the NY Times basically has their own version of the same story, including a story about that same California town, and plenty of other stories of people who had problems with online maps. Of course, these articles are a little sensationalistic because most people admit that most of the time, the maps work great and make life a lot easier (though, that's a boring article to write). However, this one got me thinking. MapQuest says they have a form where you can tell them if the routes they suggest are wrong, or bad, though people rarely do. At the same time, the article points out that these mapping systems leave out the most important points you receive when humans are giving you directions - such as landmarks or indications that you've made a mistake. I started wondering what it would take to create such metadata about driving directions. If there were a way to get enough people interested in inputting various metadata about driving landmarks and the real best routes (including ones based on time, so you know which roads - or even lanes - to avoid at rush hour), you could create a very useful database - though, I imagine it would be nearly impossible to mainstain over time.
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