Schuyler Looks at the APIs

On the Mapping Hacks blog, Schuyler Erle takes a look at the “big three” online mapping APIs: “The big three — Google, Yahoo!, and MSN Virtual Earth — have basically converged, and their map display APIs look more or less alike, implementation details aside.” He makes a particularly interesting point about what come next (or what doesn’t), and the essential sameness of map mashups:

The one thing no one is offering quite yet is a clear view of the next stage of the game. At present, all that these map APIs offer is ultimately a way to put points on a map — what we’ve for years half-jokingly referred to as “red dot fever”. With the pre-rendered map layers offered by the Google/Y!/MSN services, we’re stuck with a limited range of map styles; with, in essence, the view of the world that these companies see fit to present. More to the point, where is the broader palette for telling new and different stories on the Web with maps? Where is the bidirectionality, the interactivity, the wiki nature? In this respect, I think I see in projects like OpenStreetMap and Community MapBuilder (to name just two) the embryonic beginnings of the next revolution in maps on the Web.