Monday, February 2, 2009

Now that Memphis is done, onto the oceans

For what seemed like a long while, Memphis wasn't available with Google Earth.

Now it is, of course, and Google is ready to "Google Earth" the oceans.

From a story in the NYT:

"On Monday, the oceans will be the most significant of several upgrades to Google Earth, with the new version downloadable free at, according to the company.

Another feature, Historical Imagery, provides the ability to scroll back through decades of satellite images and watch the spread of suburbia or erosion of coasts."

I don't know which is cooler.

Reporter Andrew Revkin recently got a sneak peek at Google's offices, virtually exploring canyons and reefs off the coast of Hawaii and watching, over years of data, as communities near Galveston, Texas, grew and then were washed away after Hurricane Ike.

I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention a book I just read: Planet Google: One Company's Audacious Plan to Organize Everything We Know.

It was really a fascinating — and, at times, disquieting — look at the company. On the one hand, the business side is pretty interesting. The book makes the case that if the company started a few years earlier or later, it wouldn't have survived.

But the idea that they want to organize all the world's data is even more interesting/disquieting. If you use gmail, you probably know a little bit about what I mean. Like when you send an email to your friend Susie Purse* and the little bar on the right side pops up with all sorts of places where you can buy purses.

I know it's all done by algorithm, and that's how they make their money, but it can be creepy.

*Obviously, a fake name. I can't go around outing my friends on my blog, especially those with product-like last names. That would be an invasion of their privacy. Plus, I can't remember whose name I noticed this feature with.

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