To challenge Google Maps, Esri Global Inc. and other map tech providers, a startup called MapBox Inc. raised $10 million in Series A funding from Foundry Group.

How do you go from the chaotic data that a satellite captures to the beautiful idealized images that MapBox is producing now? Pixel by pixel.

Mr Gunderson's bet is that his company's transformation of freely available data and open-source projects allow it to compete with companies hundreds of times its size on price, quality and technical support.

It turns out the global open mapping effort has now mapped data on more than 78 million buildings and 21 million miles of road (if you wanted to drive all those roads at, say, 60 miles an hour, it would take you some 40 years to do it).

Meet OpenStreetMap, which today debuts iD, a new open source, easy editing tool, letting anyone in the world quickly add and edit data. OpenStreetMap is a community mapping project boasting more than 1 million users and 20,000 active users adding data each month.

Metadata in twitter posts lets readers in on your geographic location, the language you speak, the phone you use, and more. They're also a mapmaker's best friend.