Google's vision for geospatial information: "We don't want a monoculture where there is just one map of the world. There never has been; there never will be."
Maps can be beautiful, interesting, and, of course, useful, but there are a lot of questions we address to maps -- and these days, Google Maps specifically -- that maybe a map isn't the best tool for answering.
Think of it this way. In the days before online trip planners and GPS, if you wanted to know how to get from point A to point B, you would look at a map and trace out a route. But these days few people would use a map that way (I still do just because I enjoy the process but I think I'm in the minority). Instead, they would plug in their request and an algorithm would spit out a route for them. The route would appear on the map, but the map is no longer the tool for finding that answer.
Directions aren't the only thing we use maps for that may be better answered by information. In an interview from the Aspen Ideas Festival below, Google's "geospatial technologist" Ed Parsons hints at how "maps" -- but really he means geospatial information -- may work in the future. For example he points to the question facing many people on this hot summer morning: Is today a good day to go the beach? If you were considering it, and were taking account the potential for storms this afternoon, you might go look at a picture of the beach on Street View to see what kinds of shelters are available in case of rain. Parsons sees a more efficient way: Instead of looking at the virtual representation of the beach, you could ask the question directly -- is there a beach nearby with good shelter in case of rain -- and Google would just tell you that, using its huge database of "anything you see in the real world."