agloe

Search for Agloe, NY, in Google Maps and the small town will duly appear. Which is odd, as Agloe doesn’t exist, and never has.

BigThink reports that Agloe was one of a number of ‘paper towns,’ places that were invented by early map-makers back in the 1930s in order to catch out rival companies who stole their work.

How do you prove someone stole your map, if that map accurately reflects reality? The answer: add fantasy! Mapmakers had been able to take their competitors to court by pointing out fake places (a.k.a. paper towns) on their maps that were copied from their original work! For this reason, fictitious roads are often called trap streets: because they entrap the company copying them onto their own maps … 

Many of today’s maps are still based on these early versions, with place names carried over in each succeeding generation of map. Right up to Google Maps today. In an odd twist on this particular paper town, someone once built a general store there, naming it after the town that never was.

polar

In a rather more deliberate move, Google has been creating Street View imagery of some of the routes travelled by polar bears in the Canadian tundra. Google partnered with Polar Bear International to carry out the survey, with Google’s blog carrying a guest post by the organisation’s executive director.

We’ve joined forces with Google Maps to collect Street View imagery from a remote corner of Canada’s tundra: Churchill, Manitoba, home to one of the largest polar bear populations on the planet. With the help of outfitters Frontiers North, the Google Maps team mounted the Street View Trekker onto a specially designed “Tundra Buggy,” allowing us to travel across this fragile landscape without interfering with the polar bears or other native species. Through October and November we collected Street View imagery from the shores of Hudson’s Bay as the polar bears waited for the sea ice to freeze over.

You can check out the Street View imagery here and see a video about the work of Polar Bear International below. PopularScience also has an inside look at Google’s effort to track the polar bears across the Tundra.

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