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I'm always glad when Google opens up a little more, and this is an important article. In this case, we're talking about an project with the internal codename of Ground Truth. A few important bits worth thinking about:
- the idea of building up a digital representation of the real world, how Street View helps with that, and what that digital map unlocks.
- how much data is involved, and how Google has made advances in technology (e.g. automatic matching of signs/logos) and then melds that with a massive number of improvements from humans both inside and outside of Google.
- how all this data processing is exactly the sort of engineering feat that Google is good at. Making maps is hard, and making really good maps is really hard.

I got a chance to see some of this operation not too long ago, and it's quite impressive.
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Awesome man, thanks for sharing.  Love getting glimpses into Google like this.
Really cool... did you read Daemon or the new Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez?  
This article makes me even more doubtful if Apple can compete successfully in this space. It's possible, for sure. But it'll take a heck of a lot of time and resources. (And really, how central are maps to their business?)
FTA: "Google is locked in a battle with the world's largest company, Apple, about who will control the future of mobile phones."

Google/Android is not going to just lose and die out. Neither is the world's most valuable company or their phones. Why do we assume that only one OS will rule the mobile market? Seems like a pretty big (and ignorant) assumption. We have more than one desktop OS choice. More than one server OS choice. Different strokes for different folks. What's wrong with that?
+Floyd Noel your response is confusing, I think you're arguing against a point that no one actually made...
Very interesting to read! I think it is great that so many people put effort into this.
+Dan Birchall I didn't read it like that, they're vying for control, not monopoly.
+pawan nimje A lot of companies who are confident of their processes are happy to share them with their competitors - safe in the knowledge that by the time they've been copied, they will have have already improved and moved even further forward.
Thanks for sharing this +Matt Cutts .  As a local search service provider this information will be useful. 
So that's how it works! This makes Maps all that more impressive (especially with regards to the use of scanned street signs), and I don't mind helping along with house numbering when I do the Captchas either. The one problem with Maps is that it's missing my photo when the Street Car passed me on the Barbican in Plymouth in 2010, I did wave.
I wonder what fraction of Google Maps content coes from volunteered data (I've added a few trails and suggested a couple corrections). My guess is it's a very small fraction.
This technology mixed with the advancements made with the self driving car and Google glass will be amazing to say the least. A major shifting point.
Some day I'll understand how google maps works... amazing.
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