Internet mapping bypasses 'church and pub' navigation

By staff writers
August 29, 2008

People in Britain, whether religious or not, have been used to negotiating their directions by first locating churches, pubs and other notable landmarks. But in the age of web maps that will have to change, because traditional sites are disappearing.

That is the view of the country's leading cartographers. For internet mapping is wiping thousands of British landmarks off the map, according to a leading geographical society.

Churches, ancient woodlands and stately homes are in danger of being forgotten as applications such as Google Earth become a more popular way for people to search interactively for maps and satellite images, British Cartographic Society president Mary Spence told her organisation's annual gathering.

Speaking at a Royal Geographic Society conference, Ms Spence said: "Corporate cartographers are demolishing thousands of years of history - not to mention Britain's remarkable geography - at a stroke by not including them on maps which millions of us now use every day."

She continued: "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."

However, Mr Ed Parsons, geospatial technologist at Google, said the way in which people used maps was changing and that the issue was therefore adaptation not loss of identity.

He declared: "Internet maps can now be personalised allowing people to include landmarks and information that is of interest to them. Anyone can create their own maps or use experiences to collaborate with others in charting their local knowledge. These traditional landmarks are still on the map but people need to search for them. You couldn't possibly have everything already pinpointed."

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