Donald Cooke has a legitimate claim to be the father of the current crop of digital-mapping tools. In the 1960s, he worked with the Census Bureau to create a pioneering digital database, and in following years he championed the commercial use of GIS systems and honed the data sets that fed into Google's mapping tools. Still, he says even he can't predict the future of the rapidly changing field. "I'm sometimes cast as a visionary, but I had no idea of the extent to which these technologies would change our lives," says Cooke, who now works as the community mapping evangelist for ESRI.

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