What is "The Middle of Nowhere" in the Google Maps Era?

van_buren_maine_rink_image.jpg
The "hybrid" map of Van Buren Ice Rink in Van Buren, ME.
[ Image: RinkAtlas.com ]

Jason Kottke gave us his thoughts on "The Middle of Nowhere", prompted by an article in En Route Magazine. I have a different perspective, since I'm in the process of geocoding all of the ice rinks in America for my RinkAtlas project.

The Middle of Nowhere, in my opinion, is just about any place where Google Maps doesn't have a satellite image that lets you identify buildings. There are quite a few places in America that meet that definition. Places like:

Why do I say that these places are The Middle of Nowhere?

It has to do with the fact that the company that Google contracted with for satellite imagery didn't deem these areas worthy of a high resolution satellite image. This may have to do with the pace of economic development rather than isolation. After all Google has high res images of Bad Axe, Michigan, which is unlikely to be considered the Center of the Universe.

Places like Morgantown are strange because you can see high resolution map segments very close to low resolution ones. Dorsey Avenue in Morgantown goes from Civilization to the Middle of Nowhere in the time it takes to drive from Don Knotts Boulevard to Morgantown Municipal Rink.

For those of you who like to compare map services, Yahoo! Maps often has high resolution photos for rural areas that Google Maps is missing. I guess The Middle of Nowhere is a different bunch of places from their perspective.