How to tap into local, distributed user-expertise to create high quality content? Google Map Maker is an interesting example of a product that is in the spirit of collective user-generated content. It is also an example of a product created by specific local need to have high quality, rich data in countries like India that may not have reliable digital data sources.
It is now available in about 57 countries. I see it as an example of emergent user-driven innovation where the product itself may evolve as users in these 57+ countries experiment and adapt the Map Maker. As Google's own blogpost indicated:
We hope Google Map Maker will result in rich local data which will benefit Google users both on the web and on mobile. The creation of base maps where there were previously none will encourage many mashups, mapplets and other cool applications that make use of this data. We're also excited to see Google Map Maker create a new breed of local map experts who bring their passion for their neighborhoods and communities into the online world, adding to local commerce, tourism and investment.
In the network era, customers and consumers are not external to the business system--but integral to it--continually shaping and evolving product characteristics and user experiences. And, corporations like Google create economies-of-expertise by leveraging local innovations for global advantage.