The goal of Maker is to push the boundaries of web mapping to provide easy to use and powerful cartographic design tools along with access to a huge amount of complex geospatial data. We've integrated Maker into Finder!, so any interesting or datasets can be immediately dropped into a map, customized and styled.
There has been a lot of discussion on the differences in viewpoints of mapping from traditional geographers and cartographers when faced with Where2.0 tools. In general, map applications have done a lot of work creating digital versions of physical maps and also throwing hundreds of markers onto a slippy map. But that was just the beginning. We worked with AxisMaps to create an understandable and accurate cartographic design interface. Hopefully the result is a more versed public in the proper use of map design as well as push traditional experts into considering new possibilities.
Another key aspect of the openness of GeoCommons is the key feature to export your maps as styled KML. This means you can build up a rich cartographic visualization, export to KML and open in something like GoogleEarth or WorldWind and retain the styling. This was a goal of the OGC OWS-5 testbed that I wrote about quite extensively. The styling is actually sort of difficult due to the design of KML itself. In the future, it would be quite nice to have better handling of rules or cascading styling that also linked to attributes in
A step in the right direction
Maker! is really meant to push what is possible in Where2.0 - but it's just the beginning. It is a great geographic visualization and interrogation tool, but we have much more planned. When Mapufacture joined with FortiusOne this summer, I talked about the potential of combining the whole range of data from complex and authoritative to dynamic and personalized. The maps and data should be accessible via a variety of interfaces, annotatable, analyzable, and more.