Thursday, November 07, 2013

Zoom In

If you use the "PLUS" button in the upper-left of this image, you will zoom in on its center, as if decreasing your elevation above the earth. You will see one very broad change, and then something small and intriguing. You can then use the "MINUS" button to zoom back out and see the context, and just how vast this visually homogenous area is.

If you click to view the larger map, you can bring the little human figure down to the scene for an eye-level view.

You can then learn the fascinating story of how this was created from ViralNova.  Several geography and geotechnology lessons are illustrated by this exercise. One is the revelation that despite the world being a crowded place in many ways, vast tracts are essentially untouched by humans. Even in this case, however, a local community is part of the story, and it is now connected to the humanitarian and military experience of people hundreds of miles away.

The exercise also reminds us that the data about the planet that is collected by satellites is indeed vast, and that the rendering of these data into images is somewhat arbitrary. Notice the dramatic differences in color as Google Maps serves imagery (which is results from the coding of streams of digital numbers) gathered from different satellites, or from the same satellites on different days. Also notice that a current copyright date is applied to the image, no matter when the data were collected.

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