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This article made me realize that Google's engineering/metrics based approach is more suited to some tasks than others. There are far too many possible views of the map to "design" by hand, but the algorithmic tricks that Google is so good at can handle it no problem. Even if a traditional usability expert could design a map of a given location at a given zoom level better (e.g., http://www.kickmap.com/), they couldn't pull it off at Google Maps scale.

Very good article, and the visual aides helped a lot.

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