Maps: Melway was an early leader. Why aren't others following?

I was interested to read the O'Reilly Radar post on third party use of map data.

Forget discussion of the US being behind on Mobile phone technology, I recall being dismayed in the 1990's when I first saw the poor Bay Area street maps; hence you needed a laundry-list of instructions when driving.

Now I use Google Maps and am grateful there is a pictorial reference to complement written driving instructions.  But Google Maps lacks visual clarity. Yahoo maps looks a better but it seems slow to me.
 
Overall both could still learn a thing or two from Melway.  Even the very first edition of the Melway street directory, published in 1966, has good clarity: Look at the page covering the center of Melbourne (In this printed book, other maps show selected parts of the city in progressively greater detail). New editions are visually better still, as you'd hope after forty one years of yearly publication.  Pity Melway is still print orientated.  And it doesn't cover San Francisco.

Comments:

you are spot on Chris. In all my travels I have never found a map or guidebook that came close to the clarity, detail and precision of the Melways. A cartographer's Mona Lisa! It is a shame they didn't take over the world of mapping (print and online).

Posted by Paul on July 18, 2007 at 08:25 PM PDT #

I think my Mona Lisa would be the Ordnance Survey maps of the UK, but Melway would take a prize somewhere close.

Posted by Christopher Jones on July 19, 2007 at 08:26 AM PDT #

bloggers may be interested to know the original maps were inspired from source material developed by the SECV (State Electricity Commission, Victoria, which had eleborate local area maps . I was part of "team " of about 6 who checked the address and names of the customer data-base against pole substatiobns(to verify who to call during blackouts or emergencies) that was in circa 1971. I was reliably told by then SECV staff, i was working alongside. That some of this material had been used for that specific purpose. I am not imputing any copyright infingements or illegality, simply the source of data. Such "pole maps" had to indicate points of access and major featuires sufficient for work crews to assess what to do etc. I agree the quality of melways is markedly better than for many other cities . In 1973 I had to grapple with the horrid London A-Z which was a nasty and innacurate production (then), and equally poor tourist maps fro several european cities. Andrew

Posted by andrew inglis on November 24, 2008 at 03:10 PM PST #

That link doesn't work, and Google's cache says "custommaps.net expired on 01/05/2010 and is pending renewal or deletion." Got another link or a cached image?

Posted by Chris Shiflett on February 10, 2010 at 08:04 AM PST #

Click on the map shown in http://melwayed1.ausway.com/mwyedn1.htm

Posted by christopher.jones on February 10, 2010 at 08:16 AM PST #

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