Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pinky I'm Going to take over the world of course??

Mapped and loaded
Saturday, November 18, 2006 18:17 IST

City surfers are having fun with Wikimapia,a software that combines
Wikipedia and Google Earth. Ridhi D'Cruz reports.

Let's define the whole Earth' is the catch phrase for a project
launched in May 2006 by Russians Alexandre Koriakine and Evgeniy
Saveliev. Inspired by two technological leaps — Wikis, a software that
allows easy, open collaboration, whereby anyone can edit and make
changes, and Google maps, which has massive amounts of satellite
imagery available online — the duo came up with Wikimapia.

Barely six months down the line, Wikimapia is driving the global
online community crazy with excitement. And the biggest buzz is not in
America or Europe, but in South Asia. What's more, Mumbai is the most
described city in the world, with almost 70,000 places mapped in the
city. Kolkata is next.

Thanks to Wikimapia, travellers around the world are sighing with
relief; they can now locate different places on their mobile phones,
by using Wikimapia in combination with geo-positioning systems.

Japanese visitor Naoki Tejima, who calls himself an 'Indophile and
idli lover', can now find postings that even the Lonely Planet misses.
And Tejima's friends in India know exactly where to find his house in

Blogger Prakash Swaminathan is excited because his obscure village in
Tamil Nadu has been mapped.

College student Rehana, who moved from Chennai to Mumbai, pined for
her daily cup of filter coffee, until recently. "Thanks to a posting
on Wikimapia, I have finally found a good place for real coffee, South
Indian style," she says.

Apart from being able to add your own titbit about a place, avoid
getting lost or sight-see without leaving your chair, Wikimapia's
charm lies in its spirit of democracy. The technology door is left
open for people to customise, create, collaborate and share.

According to Pallavi Latkar of the Centre for Urban Studies, Mumbai,
"Wikimapia has the potential to be a good tool to gather data at the
NGO and ward level. It can generate greater interest and participation
amongst citizens."

Accessing and using Wikimapia is simple and how-to-use directions are
easily available. On his site,
American blogger Matt Jones has written step-by-step instructions on a
number of topics including adding a place on Wikimapia.

It's this simplicity and sheer fun that's drawn in loads of people.
One Mumbai posting reads: "Pintoo stays here, along with Monu, and
Popu the cat." A posting in Shimla: "Tatti khaana. People defecate
Co-founder Koriakine is unconvinced about this kind of information
being put up. In one of his posts, he writes: "In a great country like
India, people use Wikimapia to mark their homes. I cannot say if it is
good or not. They just do it. So we have to handle this somehow, we
need to find a solution."

— Additional reporting by Sanjay Bhangar