October 26, 2006
By Elisabeth Grant
What do you get when you combine the images and functions of google maps with the collective editing power of wikipedia? You get Wikimapia. Creators of wikimapia, Alexandre Koriakine and Evgeniy Saveliev, simply wanted to “describe the whole plant Earth.” So they put together an online resource that allows users to label places and things on google map satellite images. Place your cursor over outlined areas and a label pops up. Double click on outlined areas and find more content.
Like with wikipedia, the fact that anyone can update and edit information on the site is both a celebrated feature and a potential flaw. Wikimapia must be used with caution, and should be used in conjunction with other sources. With that said, the images and labels are both fascinating and fun, and you may find hours have passed while you explored a place label by label.
The potential uses of wikimapia may stem from pure curiosity to serious scholarly examination. For instance, a teacher giving a lecture to her Ancient History class may want to direct students to the satellite image of the Great Sphinx on wikimapia, or to the various pyramids that are labeled nearby.
Or, those attending the AHA’s 121st Annual Meeting might want to check out a close-up of Atlanta, Georgia to view the proximity of hotels and other destinations near the meeting. Wikimapia users have labeled dozens of buildings in the city, including the Georgia-Pacific tower, Georgia State University, and the Centennial Olympic Park.
So sneak a peek at wikimapia, maybe you’ll find something to add to the description of the world.