It’s not my intention to become the “critical pushpinnery” guy. But after my post on the US Drone Attacks mapped using Google MyMaps (which appears to no longer have any pushpins at all now) in Janurary, I keep seeing maps that would benefit from, not just a “better choice” of point symbol, but some choice (rather than simply using the default). This led me to the Google Maps Icon collection. The idea behind this is great – we shouldn’t use the same point symbols for every type of point. Not only is this graphically inappropriate (not being able to tell different points apart – like highways and POIs in this Betty Lou Cruises Map), it can also be emotionally inappropriate (as Daniel Huffman suggests on his blog post ‘a war without humans‘).
But the Google Maps Icon collection creates new issues. By allowing users to create and upload their own icon symbols to the community, some potentially inappropriate icons are bound to make it through. Below is a small sample of some icons available through this community. Some of them could pretty easily be argued as offensive. Others just seem odd to me. What do you think?