Looking for patterns in the geography of map use and folksonomy map making

Today, I read a blog post on folksonomy mapping on the United Maps Blog, which triggered me to think about how the geography of map use may relate to the geography of map making, especially with regard to projects such as Open Street Map. Are there patterns that may suggest that the most popular areas that people look at on Google Maps or Microsoft Virtual Earth are also the areas that are best mapped by folksonomy mappers worldwide?

There is an interesting research paper (pdf) on hotmaps (more commonly known as heat maps these days, I guess) by Danyel Fisher, available from Microsoft Research. The paper provides insights into the geography of map use, for instance, with regard to a tourism context. The areas, in which map tiles are most frequently requested are the „hot“ or „heat“ areas. These places are often popular tourist attractions.

I thought it would be interesting to overlap these heat maps or hotmaps with maps showing the degree of completion and coverage in the Open Street Map geodata. I haven’t really looked closely, whether someone may have already done this. If so, please let me know. Otherwise, maybe someone is keen for a mashup, maybe as a little research project in a geography or a GIS related course at university? I think it would be interesting to find out if there are distinct patterns. It seems obvious that an overlap will show that the big cities are most popular in terms of map access and also in terms of completion of coverage in Open Street Map. But what other patterns may be found? And how may they be explained?

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