Just a matter of time ... ?
But a Google-advisor writes, first quoting my e-mail:
Take the "State of the World Atlas" ... imagine if this data was available at all scales, as a GIS annotation layer upon Google maps. A Google News cluster could have a geocoded story link to Google Maps, with the appropriate uncontroversial layers (population, migration, poverty, jobs, pollution levels, trade, transport, social services etc.) enabled.
And then writing:
"I've just downloaded the new Google Earth, and it has the basic structure for doing this. It provides a menu of "layers" of different kind of info, and has provision for people outside of Google to provide the information for "User provided" layers (I see there is one for some UNESCO WHS data, but don't see it on the map). There is currently only low resolution outside of US, but presumably that will get better. Is this the kind of thing you're thinking of?"
They're working on a Mac version of Google Earth. So I'll see it someday.
But I'd like to see these layers in Google Maps. I'm sure the Google digital map groups are closely allied. So it may be just a matter of time. But, some demand would help move development up the queue.
Then, the next step: create contextual map links near news stories. Keywords in Google News clusters can be automatically weighed against canonical descriptions of the GIS layers, as well as the map data labels. The right coverage area would be found, and layers could be pre-loaded, but turned off, with a list of checkboxes, so the the user can enable them.
This would change the nature of discourse about the world ...