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June 29, 2005

Google Earth free-for-all

I just came home tonight from a couple of days with my wife and children at our family's country house in southern Sweden. In my inbox, was a reply to an email I had sent a friend, trying to identify his island from above using Google Maps' satellite imagery.
While I had guessed right (for the purpose of privacy I'll defer from linking to the island from here), more importantly, the exchange prompted me to check keyhole.com (the company acquired by Google and the basis for all Google's satellite imagery) for the 43rd time, to see whether Google Earth had finally been released. Indeed I was in luck and have now been playing around with Google Earth for the last few hours.

While interface features like tilting and rotating are the big pluses in Google Earth vs. Maps, the real revelation is the user-generated layers (listed as Keyhole BBS), which allow us to collectively annotate the imagery. Already, there are links to webcams, SETI telescopes, locales of current events and Charlie Chaplin's Studio.
While I'm still not sure at what intervals annotations on the Keyhole BBS is integrated back into the data streamed to the Google Earth client, this is one of the first collective geo-annotation services that really works.

I've had to eat my old hat: Google 2 - Yahoo 1. Buy and buy.

Posted by Nikolaj Nyholm at June 29, 2005 12:23 AM

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