So this is how I spent my Friday off work:
Radio 4 at 10:30am, Saturday 18th September 2010.
It seems Argleton just won’t die! Late to the game behind the Ormskirk Advertiser, Mister Roy’s visit and my post about the village some 13 months ago, the Daily Telegraph yesterday revealed the mystery of Argleton, the ‘Google’ town that only exists online.
It’s a nice article with exclusive interviews from Joe Moran from LJMU and, of course, Roy Bayfield. They’ve also managed to get answers from Google and their data provider Tele Atlas. Google’s spokesman said:
“While the vast majority of this information is correct there are occasional errors. We’re constantly working to improve the quality and accuracy of the information available in Google Maps and appreciate our users’ feedback in helping us do so. People can report an issue to the data provider directly and this will be updated at a later date.”
Ah yes, report the fault… that’d be what we’ve done on several occasions without success and may be the reason why Google have decided to take corrections into their own – or more accurately the user’s own – hands. It seems that drawing the attention of a national newspaper has caused Tele Atlas to pull their finger out:
“Mistakes like this are not common, and I really can’t explain why these anomalies get into our database.”
Let’s try a bit harder, shall we… is it because there is no process for checking data before it’s added? Is it because you’ve chosen not to buy additional sources of data to verify against? Is it because your error reporting procedure is so poor that 13 months later it’s still in the database? No?
For Google, errors like these are annoying. They recently announced Google Maps Navigation for Android 2.0 offering turn-by-turn directions similar to Tom Tom and other devices but for free. Accuracy of maps and the ability to keep them up to date will be one of the big selling points.
But time may be nearly up for Argleton “A spokesman [for Tele Atlas] said it would now wipe the non-existent town from the map.”
Update: Mister Roy appeared on Radio 5live’s The Weekend News (starts at 25 minutes).
Google has announced a new feature to allow users to report problems and suggest changes to maps. It’s currently only available in the US but you can see how it will work on this video:
I’ll be slightly sorry to see Argleton go but I’ll be glad to have my childhood home back!
Okay, it probably doesn’t – their motto is “Do No Evil” after all – but the power of Google has renamed Aughton to Argleton.
I’m not sure which gazetteer they use but either other people use it too, or other sites are using the Google geocoder as the basis of their site because you can do all sorts of things in Argleton! From jobs, to hotels – even my old primary school! As more and more “Web 2.0” services make use APIs, we’re placing our trust into a small number of services to provide good data with no clear way of challenging the accuracy of it.
Please Google, don’t take away my childhood!