Thursday, January 15, 2009

Prop 8 Donors Google Map

Prop 8 Maps

Someone has produced a Google Map mashup showing the locations of individuals and companies that donated to Prop 8. Proposition 8 changed the California state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage.

I haven't provided a link to the map because I do have some concerns about such a map.

In November of last year someone produced a Google Map of members of the British National Party (a far right/racist party in the UK). The map was created from a lost membership list. At the time I didn't publicise the map because I had concerns about the geo-coding.

Geo-coding is still an inexact science and creating a map from a list of addresses is nearly always going to create errors. Those errors will mean that some innocent people's homes are going to be tagged as the homes of BNP members, or in this case as donors to support Prop 8.

In the UK someone has now created a map called BNP Near Me?, which rather neatly gets around this problem by producing a heat map of BNP members rather than showing individual addresses.

Last year Google Maps Mania did publish a link to The Huffington Post's Fundrace 2008 - a Google Maps mashup of 2008 presidential campaign donations. Here's how The Huffington Post promote their map,

"...Want to know if a celebrity is playing both sides of the fence? Whether that new guy you're seeing is actually a Republican or just dresses like one? If your boss maxed out at that fundraiser or got comped? Whether your neighbor's political involvement stops at that hideous lawn sign? FundRace makes it easy to search by name or address to see which presidential candidates your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors are contributing to."

At the end of the day whether Google Maps Mania publishes the link or not matters very little. I hear that Google is quite good at searching for websites and Prop 8 Maps is already beginning to get a lot of linkage elsewhere on the internet.

If you are interested in the ethical issues concerning this map - here is some further reading:

The Volokh Conspiracy
The Atlantic
Dallas News



Anonymous said...

Like we can't search for the map in Google with "prop 8 google map mashup?"

Keir Clarke said...

Kind of what I was hinting at when I said "I hear that Google is quite good at searching for websites"