Geography 2.0: Virtual Globes

AAG2007 Virtual Globes Logo

Friday, December 23, 2005

Harvard Geography

Though it has not received much press, the reintroduction of geography to Harvard University--through the establishment of its Center for Geographic Analysis--makes my list as one of the more important spatial stories of the year. An October Harvard press release outlines the justification and purpose of the center. By the way, they are hiring; the Harvard career website has postings for the Director of GIS Research Services and other support positions.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Preliminary Schedule for AAG2006 Released

The Association of American Geographers has released the preliminary schedule for its annual meeting (Chicago, March 7-11, 2006). The virtual globes activities will be occurring on Thursday afternoon. So far, the AAG website has been too tied up to get any other additional information. link: AAG2006 schedule

Monday, December 12, 2005

A good day for conversions and tutorials

Scanning the lastest GIS-centric entries at Planet Geospatial, I was delighted by the posting of some new KML-GML-ArcGIS conversion scripts by Christian Spanring and Matt Perry. Also, today's postings link to tutorials on Local Live Bird's Eye and the Google Maps API. By the way, I'm still working on my wiki for kml--the point being an open spatial database. It's likely to be unimpressive, but should be a fun brainstorming tool.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

MSDN Channel 9 / Virtual Earth

Microsoft's Steve Lombardi details the latest functionality of Virtual Earth on their MSDN Channel 9 site (here). They mention a few things that I didn't notice when I was playing with it (like printing and direction upgrades). He also demonstrates a map control application showing realtime traffic information.

So--- enough propaganda. Nevertheless, it is nice to actually to see the software developers talk enthusiastically about their product and aspirations for it.

Google Earth for Mac

The buzz is all about the prerelease of Google Earth for Mac. Sites like Ogle Earth, Google Earth Blog, and Apple Insider have some first reviews and impressions. I thought I should at least mention it for those who don't look at other blogs. My Mac friends (okay, so that's something like two people) seem to have disappeared into their offices to play with the new software. I look forward to the new experimentation and perspectives relating to the technology when they emerge.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Google Earth Education Initiative

After I gave a quick demonstration on virtual globes' education potential at yesterday's SPACE organizers meeting in Santa Barbara, several participants asked about the Google Earth Education Initiative. The program's coordinator is currently on sabbatical, so response may be somewhat delayed. Nevertheless, here's the information:

Google is investing its heart and soul in education. All the way from the Library Project to the Keyhole-Google Education Initiative where we are distributing (on request by faculty or administrator) a free license of Google Earth PRO.

Spread the word. If you're a teacher, professor, or school administrator, send me an e-mail, requesting Google Earth PRO and I will send you a 1 page authorization document, followed by a free license for one year.


Dennis Reinhardt
den( at )

Sunday, December 04, 2005

globes wiki, anyone?

How about a wiki that creates an associated globes-readable file? I'm thinking about KML, but mostly because I don't know any other easy option. The point would be to allow community creation/collaboration/review of spatial databases (ie. an open source spatial database). Anyone seen a site that does this yet?

globes comparison

People ask me about the differences between the various globes software. A good place to start is EarthSLOT's comparison of 3D engines--a page that discusses some of the strengths and weaknesses of Skyline, Google Earth, GeoFusion, and NASA World Wind.

ArcGIS Explorer screenshots

ESRI has created a screenshot showcase for ArcGIS Explorer. The page says to expect a public beta in Q1 2006.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

literature review

There is a growing need to compile the scientific literature regarding virtual globes. As I work on it, I'll share what I find. Also, I hope readers of this will do the same. My background is geography, so I'm sure my list will be biased toward that. Anyone care to share suggestions on related computer science literature?

Anyway, I ran into Waldo Tobler in the hall yesterday, and he mentioned a couple of things he'd done. To start:

Tobler (2002), Global Spatial Analysis
Tobler (2001), Spherical Measures without Spherical Trigonometry

...also, the Ping group has a survey of globes...
Thorne (2003), Earth's Avatar: the web augmented virtual earth

...and the NCGIA has a bibliography on geobrowsers.

...and the Discrete Global Grids book...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

El Tatio Geysers with Google Earth

Decided to try my hand with Google Earth KML. I uploaded the database from my 2002 expedition to El Tatio Geyser Field, Chile. You can get to it at: