November 01, 2005

I can see your house from here! [Cybertrack - 3]

Google Earth

Google Earth has caused significant undergarment torsion to the establishment, with even our First Rocket Scientist expressing concern at its freely available (to anyone with a whacking great broadband connection and Win2K or XP, that is) close-ups of the earth’s surface.

A clever mix of animation and actual satellite photography, and the globe is your plaything; spin it, flip it, fly around it, do a vertiginous zoom from outer space to close enough to see an individual street, building or even a vehicle. (I picked out out the yellow smudges of the taxi lineoutside Nizamuddin railway station, and, nearer home, the white streak of concrete changing to the black of tar road near the Vashi creek bridge.)

Google takes this already magical experience, mixes in mapping software, and harnesses the collaborative efforts of online communities, letting you overlay road maps, locate specific addresses, restaurants, hospitals, get driving directions, even put a thumbtack on your own neighbourhood.

For the traveller, this means you get a perspective on the place you’re interested in, a sense of of being there, that you’d never get from even a detailed line map.

Easy landmarks to find: Manhattan’s skyscrapers and the Statue of Liberty, the London Eye, the Eiffel Tower, the Gateway of India, India Gate. And yes, Rashtrapati Bhavan is dead easy. You can even figure out when the shots were taken by the angle of the shadows. The White House, though, has been blurred out, at the request of Georgie’s underlings. Hm. I see your point, Kalamsaheb.

Published in the November edition of Outlook Traveller, in a column called Cybertrack



Tags: ,

No comments: