Google Earth Updates Give History Lesson

    November 13, 2006

Google is usually on the cutting edge, or at least near it. The company’s latest “innovations” are intentionally out of date, though. Google Earth will now feature historical maps dating back as far as the 17th century.

Thanks to a partnership with National Geographic, this “Featured Content” can connect “users to information about the history of the world through one of the largest private map collections in the US.” And according to the company, those maps “have been brought to life for the first time using advanced digitization techniques and innovative software tools in Google Earth.”

David Rumsey provided the historical maps for the search engine company’s use. “I am thrilled to be able to share maps from my collection with users worldwide in Google Earth,” he said in a statement. “The cartographers who made these historical maps hundreds of years ago would be amazed and pleased to see their treasures in Google Earth.”

There were other updates, as well, all scheduled in honor of Geography Awareness Week. Most of them mesh very neatly with “Spotlight on Africa,” in which a “layer shows the flags of 53 African countries on top of the satellite imagery.” Indeed, Google seemed proud to note that the “new Featured Content pays tribute to Africa.”

The historical maps got the lion’s share of the publicity, however, and spawned a number of headlines regarding Google Earth’s new “4D” capabilities. Garett Rogers wisely warned his readers, “Don’t expect detailed high resolution photography from days gone by, but it’s still interesting to see old maps overlaid on the satellite imagery of today.”


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Doug is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest eBusiness news.