MapQuest Invites Itself to the Open-Social

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MapQuest … You remember MapQuest, the innovator of online mapping from the ’90s. The innovator from the ’90s bought by AOL and turned into a cartographic ATM and then had the last drops of life wrung from it when it was splintered across the AOL organization with ownership of mobile (the most important element, mind you) in both many and no hands. The same MapQuest that clawed for enterprise and B2B deals while Google thanked them for their ignorance and promptly stomped them into the ground. Yeah, that MapQuest.

Well, MapQuest just might have found themselves again. They’ve been on a rebirth tour for a while and today launch what is a significant in direction: away from closed “we are the Map Kings” and toward the more logical and open “you are the Map Army.”

Teaming with OpenStreetMap (see what was done with the open source maps in Haiti for example) MapQuest is providing a world where maps are editable by thousands of contributors, making for something akin to wikipedia of maps.

Says MapQuest on their blog: “After the successful launches of 10 open-sourced maps in Europe and Asia in partnership with OpenStreetMap (OSM), MapQuest is proud to launch its U.S. site located at  The new site empowers consumers to improve MapQuest open map data by adding rich content such as tourism attractions, footpaths, new businesses or developments, and biking or hiking trails.

“MapQuest’s new open site enables consumers in the U.S. to play an active role in improving the depth and quality of the map.  Today, there are more than 320,000 registered OSM users worldwide, including a growing U.S. contingency in urban locations such as San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Denver.”

On a call Wednesday night MapQuest GM Christian Dwyer spoke of “out-open”-ing Google (to whom they are second) and other bold endeavors. It’s clear that consumers, their needs, anticipating those needs and making truly intuitive experiences that transcend just mapping and guidance are in the works.

The geosocialization and humanizing of MapQuest through crowdsourcing and other methods could be just the right direction for a pioneer trekking a long and winding path leading to this big change.

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