Google Earth used to be a boring and hard to use tool that most of us visited only if we had to do something with it for a tedious school project. I for one have never been on the old Google Earth site for other purposes, and I believe that many readers can empathize with that. But Google Earth got a total makeover recently, and it’s looking great. The entire experience is now a lot more entertaining and educational, so the prospects of using Google Earth in our free time as well are actually accurate now.
Spectacular vs Misleading
The new and revamped Google Earth is, in one word, spectacular. The project has a ton of new media partners, and thanks to these fruitful alliances you can now climb Mount Everest, swim with sharks or even have Zari the purple Muppet as your guide in Afghanistan. You can visit any landmark on the surface of the planet in full 3D and also get the NASA guided tour if you want. And most places on the map come with either info cards that were specially designed and written for them, or at least info taken off of their official Wikipedia pages.
However, the new Google Earth is as misleading as it is spectacular. The main problem with it is that it offers you the world on a silver platter and you can watch it unfold in the entirety of its spectacle from a safe, clean distance. Not to mention that the data itself was collected from the same sanitized distance. Thus, Google Earth offers you an experience that can be fun and educational, but it’s also sterile, impersonal and, most importantly, uninvolved. This type of digital tourism seems to be in tune with our world’s sociopolitical climate, which is most unfortunate.