"In 1765, a 22-year-old British naval officer named James Rennell set out to map the entire Indian subcontinent. Traveling with a small party of soldiers, he used the advanced technologies of the day: a compass and a distance-measuring wheel called a perambulator. During the six-year journey, one soldier was killed by a tiger, five were mauled by a leopard, and Rennell was wounded in an attack by angry locals. He survived, and his detailed maps and atlas, published in the 1780s, defined British understanding of India for generations. Years later, a British geographer wrote that, to Rennell, "blanks on the map of the world were eyesores."
More than two centuries later, within the decidedly safer confines of Building 45 on Google's Mountain View, California, campus, John Hanke clicks the 3-foot image of Earth projected on his office wall and spins it around to India. Hanke, the director of Google Earth and Google Maps, zooms in for a closer look at Bangalore. At first, the city appeared in Google Earth as little more than a hi-res satellite photo. "Bangalore wasn't mapped on Google's products," he says, "and it really wasn't very well mapped, period." Now, however, hundreds of small icons pop up on the screen ..."