On a recent flight, I read two articles that had been festering in my to-read list.

How Google builds it maps -- and what it means for the future of everything is, as friends have said, astonishing. I was suitably amazed at how many people it takes to absorb human intelligence and layer that onto geodata.

Then I read How Walk Score puts a number on walkability, part of a Slate series on Walking in America, and learned that Walk Score is bedevilled by problems that arise from relying on software rather than intelligence. And I wondered, how long before Google tarmacs over Walk Score.

Perhaps crowdsourcing the intelligence overlay1 will solve Walk Score's problems, although a quick glance at their offerings for Rome suggests not.

And then, this morning, Nicola Twilley's wonderful Edible Geography blog brought me The Spatial Distribution of Americans in Relationship to Starbucks. Take that approach to walkability and you might be getting somewhere.

  1. Original link dead. Found thanks to the Internet Archive. You're welcome. 


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