Around the Net

Google Earth and Beyond

  • Wired, Wednesday, June 27, 2007 11:15 AM
The popular 3D satellite mapping program Google Earth continues to improve, as new features and locations are uploaded. Much of this is thanks to a volunteer army of amateur cartographers. Indeed, Google Earth just might be the ultimate wiki: a virtual Earth containing information about every business in every city, posting real-time links to stories in cities worldwide as they happen. Maybe even allowing buyers and sellers to conduct business. Advertisers' heads must be spinning.

What if you could walk down the street, take a picture of a given building and instantly know everything about it -- as Google Earth syncs your digital photo to the 3D representations in its database. That technology is already possible in the form of 2-D barcodes.

Through their mapping programs, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have made the practice of cartography available to anyone. In this regard, map-making has become a wiki-powered endeavor, as "tens of thousands of personal map mashups" and annotation projects have emerged plotting "text, links, data, and even sounds." What's evolving is something more than an interactive map: call it a massive, networked "geoweb."

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