Maps are very important to me. An accurate map might be the most objective thing I have ever witnessed. The globe is even better, the globe is great because unlike maps which split the world, possibly putting the focus on one continent or group of continents. The globe allows the viewer to see exactly what they seek, not what a cartographer views as important.
Satellite images are, in my view, perfect. An up-to-date satellite image is a thing of beauty. Averaging about 250 thousand miles away, satellites can take a picture of your backyard, and the backyards of everyone in the world, provided there’s a yard back there. Compiling data about every visible (outdoors) thing and presenting this information to the world is great, to me.
But at what cost does all of this information come? I think it is great to be able to look at Google Earth at different countries like Kazakhstan, Indonesia, or Russia, and feel like I am there. Though I cannot smell, feel, taste, or hear anything that is going on in those places, just seeing it puts me in a situation I had not had access to earlier. In cohort with SketchUp, architects can recreate 3-D images and import them into Google Earth so we can actually walk around in cities we may have never seen. I now have the access to learn street names and navigate around a city that I have never physically encountered. It’s great. But again, that brings me back to my earlier question, but at what cost? If Yin-Yang is something to be taken seriously I must believe that something so great must also be very destructive.
Google Earth is owned by an American company—Google. Which means, when Google teams up with a federal agency, NASA, to bring the world satellite images of itself, what does that mean for, say, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, or Russia? People living in these countries have no idea that I am technically spying on their city. I have them all figured out. I could find out where to get fresh meat if I was put in the capital cities today. The people have no control over this. It was a nice idea when I was innocently trying to attain knowledge about other cities, architecture, or cultural products, but the more I think about it, the more I feel like one of my favorite pastimes is disgustingly intrusive. And that’s just me, with somewhat noble aspirations. What about those with fewer scruples? What about the images of nuclear reactors? What about work/prison camps? What about refugee camps? Near unlimited access to information is tough enough to grasp, the idea that for the right price anyone can find out about anything, but the unlimited access to geospatial data (which actually is sometimes incorporated with information, but for the sake of this, it is separate) to go with the intelligence has potential to be very dangerous to many parties.