Two points about Google Maps:
1. I used Google Maps to find a Chinese Restaurant the other day. This would not be a remarkable feat were it not for the fact that I used street view. Google searching wasn't working to find the place, which I knew was across the street from another business. So I found the address of that business, found it on Google Maps, and used street view. I swiveled the camera around and was able to see the restaurant's sign. I then Googled that and was able to view a menu and get the number from that search. The process I just described is the sort of mundane thing many people use the Internet for every day. Every once in a while, though, I am amazed at the power at my fingertips. I can type an address and look at a 360-degree picture of the street. Astonishing. Magical.
2. If you didn't notice the other day, stories abounded about how google is releasing a Google Maps navigation application for smart phones. It killed the Garmin and TomTom stock prices. Apparently, google is going to make money off this deal because it now owns all its own maps (I understand why this would save them money, but not how this app is supposed to make them money). By tracing nearly every street in the nation to produce street view, Google committed the brute force necessary to create their own maps. The closest analog I can think of in terms of coverage and manpower is the census. Is Google as powerful as the federal bureaucracy?