Michael Jones of Google Maps gave a speech at Where 2.0 on "The New Meaning of Mapping." Jones states that his Google products are allowing people to use maps to explore places and create "placesites" instead of websites. He gives the impression that these new maps, with the ability to overlay data in a GIS format that is easy to use, is a new way to allow people to gain location-information on a place.
Jones is both right and wrong. He is correct when he discusses how many people are using these tools for the first time to gain location awareness. However, he is mistaken in his implication that this is all new. Maps from the beginning of time have given information on the places they depict. It is just that only a limited amount of people knew how to read maps to gain the complete picture. My saying of "if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a map is worth a million" stresses the the knowledge that can be gained from a map. Each symbol displayed, and the spatial relationship between objects tells a story of landscape modification.
But Jones is right. Google Maps and neogeography in general has opened up maps to an audience that has otherwise ignored or used maps to less than their full potential. (Hat tip: Geoshunter)