If one of the primary goals of cartography (map making) is to combine science, aesthetics, and technique that is modeled in a way that spatial information can effectively be communicated, then Google Earth has nailed the objective splendidly.Google Earth is the 21st century version of every map makers dream. It is a virtual globe, map, and geographical information program that maps the earth via superimposition images attained from satellite imagery, aerial photography and GIS 3D globe.In addition to its obvious useful purposes, Google Earth has been very useful for other day-to-day purposes such as:
- Viewing areas “before and after” they were subjected to natural disaster such as tsunami or earthquake
- Being used in classrooms around the world to expose children to “first hand” learning about countries and cultures other than their own
- Space study with placemarks on the moon and Mars
Additionally, version 5.0 includes historical imagery that allows users to travel back in time and study early stages of any location they choose. This has been helpful for research purposes that require analysis of past records, but it’s also a nifty tool for any map connoisseur to get their historical fix as well as their real time fix.Law enforcement is also on the Google earth bandwagon since it can be used to identify marijuana fields and track human activity at the fields to best know when to approach and arrest rather than just burning the harvest.Environmentalists also applaud this new age map since it allows them to examine patterns of deforestation in response to activity and climate change and since “a picture speaks a 1000 words,” they have their documentation immediately at hand rather than having to travel thousands of miles to obtain photographic documentation.Yes, maps have certainly come a long way since the days when cave painting was used to document rivers, mountains, and dwellings. Today a satellite looks down and produces an exact image of these things so nothing is left to speculation or interpretation.