A comparison of Location – Lab 2

February 3, 2010

Although this class is about the Digital Earth, the place I would like to visit someday is the Moon.  It is hard to predict what walking on a different celestial body would be like and the only foresight I can offer is one based on pictures and the experience of others.  My initial description entailed a black sky, dusty grey landscape illuminated by the distant sun, and the silence of space.  My initial and final descriptions were the same after looking at ground view photos at the Apollo 16 landing site.

As for a location I would not want to travel to, I chose the city of Tokyo in Japan.  My initial view of the city is one overly crowded with people, vehicles, and buildings.  I understand this is the basic definition of a city but I thought of Tokyo as more crowded than a typical large city.  Also, the difference in culture is not something I would enjoy, especially since i’m not much of a seafood person.  However, after looking at street views of the city, it was not as bad as I initially thought.  Yes, it was crowded, but not to the extent I imagined.  I didn’t learn much about the culture with Google Earth but it portrayed the city differently than I thought.

With the street view, or even the overhead view, Google Earth grants an observer a first person view of the surrounding culture and environment.  For instance, in Tokyo, Japan I learned that drivers travel on the left side of the road, an example of the differing culture.  However, this is not to say that Google Earth provides an accurate representation of reality.  The program offers only a view and lacks the smells, sounds, and feelings of a place.  Google Earth cannot provide the smells of traditional food in Tokyo, the feeling of low gravity on the moon, or the peaceful silence of outer space.  In other words, Google Earth only provides a glimpse; the reality of a location must be experienced firsthand.

Google Earth has thousands of uses other than virtual tourism.  Since it is an advanced map, it can be used to display the varieties of data and information we discussed in class.  However, the ability to observe and study specific details of celestial objects would be useful for astronomers, scientists, and even students.  Google Earth could offer the ability to observe other planets, suns, interstellar space, and universes with detail and ease.  For example, Astronomy deals with a gigantic amount of data.  Google Earth could serve as a centralized database for this information.  Also, almost all that Astronomy deals with is too distant and hostile for humans to experience them.  Thus, most of what we know about the universe comes from observing light from far away objects.  Google Earth, or Google Universe as it should be renamed, would provide those observations (photos, information points, points of interest) similarly to the ease and detail that is currently Google Earth.


5 Responses to “A comparison of Location – Lab 2”

  1. edemuyn2 said

    Your use of images to illustrate your points is great and your post is thoughtful and interesting. I like you choice of the moon as a place you’d like to visit.

  2. shao4 said

    I never thought someone would think outside the Earth when this lab was assigned. I had no idea google Earth provided the moon as well and the first thing I did after reading this was to go and check it out for myself. The images you posted of the moon were great, and yes I agree that while google earth does allow you to see first hand what a certain place looks like, it is the only thing the picture is able to provide for us. The real feelings of a place can only be experienced while you are actually there. Everything you believe about a place can only be called assumptions until you have gone there yourself.

  3. I like how you point out that Google Earth cannot provide the sights, sounds, and smells of a place. As I was reading your analysis of Tokyo through the pictures you found on Google Earth I began thinking that even though you saw pictures of a non-crowded street, doesn’t mean it’s not very crowded. I noticed the same thing as I browsed around the Earth myself. There were pictures that showed streets clean and clear when in reality they are probably jammed with cars and people. It is perhaps a biased photograph.

    • cjbates8 said

      I agree that it was a biased picture. It would be impossible to find a picture that isn’t since even a single place can have many diverse parts to it, especially in a city. Even if we could assume that the picture I looked at was unbiased, it does not account for, say, the subway system, which could be even more crowded than the streets.

  4. zranney2 said

    I love the choices for both of your locations! The moon is a location I never thought to choose, I didn’t know that google earth had images of the moon! I wonder what location on earth is most like the environment on the moon, if any (without the loss of gravity of course). I think your choice for Tokyo Japan is definitely justified. I would rather not visit a city that is so densely populated. I also agree with you that I would much rather like to get a taste of the various senses one would experience in such a town, and google earth just presents images of any given street you choose. Is it possible to believe that if you were looking at the exact same image in reality, the space you are in could evoke many different senses and feelings rather than looking at a photograph.

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