I must have confused many of you when I talked about Google Maps as a thrilling online activity. I made it sound like a game. It's a game when you are into it. I have made 4653 contributions as a Local Guide to this day (20th Jan 2021), accumulating a staggering 16 million views on them. If you are new to this subject, let's work on finding some clarity.
|A Local Guide in Bhutan|
Well, we all use Google Maps to look up places. Google didn't come around to add those places on their map. Local people like you and me added them. Anyone with a Google account can sign in on Maps and add, edit or review places. Once you begin doing that, you are a Local Guide. I got into it by accident and it started getting exciting when I discovered I was earning points. And Badges. I reached Level 8. Google really knows how to use people to happily work for them for free. But the benefit is mutual and that's why I don't mind doing it.
Adding New Place
Reviewing a Place
5 per review
Review with more than 200 characters
10 bonus points
Adding a Photo
5 per photo
Adding a video
7 per video
Editing a Place
5 per edit
Adding a Road
15 per road
Answering a question
Fact-Checking Others’ Contributions
I try, without success, to influence young people to play around with Maps instead of PUBG. Three years from now the hundreds of hours and infinite data put into paying the games will leave you with nothing to show. Even the chicken dinner is fake. But the same effort on Maps would have earned you thousands of points and massive credibility as a local guide, with a chance to win surprise gifts from Google and to go to local guides conference in San Fransisco. I have won 100 GB space on Google Drive some years ago.
|Places I reviewed (Most Viewed)|
To be an effective local guide, you must go to places, take pictures, observe things and write about the place. You would have travelled to so many places, taken thousands of pictures, written so many reviews and created a lot of memories, which can't be done by playing some mobile game. It's an exercise that will help you be in the moment and be aware of things around you. Once you are into it, you will find it exciting to explore new places. While it seems like you are thanklessly working for Google, you will realize that you are only contributing toward improving the accuracy of the map of our local places. We are helping ourselves and not Google.
|Top 4 most viewed photos I posted|
If we could add all our places accurately on the map, then we are ready to embrace map-based services such as taxi app, home delivery services, etc. Even the postal service will improve. We can get to any address using our phone. We need not tell the colour of the building or the name of the building owner.
As you earn more points and climb to higher levels your credibility as a local guide becomes stronger. The places you add get approved faster. This gives you the power to help add small businesses on the maps. It could be an alternate career, going around adding places and reviewing them. Businesses may pay us to add them and write reviews. Sometimes, we get to name a place.
|One Place I named "Yak Monument" in Haa|
And finally, if you just want to have fun on Maps and do none of the above, let me tell you how you could virtually visit all the places you have ever wanted to go. If you want to be more adventurous, go to Doklam or visit Nubtshonapata or hundreds of lakes on the northern frontiers. You could measure the dimensions of the lakes and declare which one is the largest. I found out that there is one lake that is bigger than Nubtshonapata in Haa, but it's not as popular because it's closer to the Tibetan border.