This week’s article by Munster (2008) discusses ‘Google Earth‘ (GE), a revolutionary program in Google’s forever expanding artillery of internet products. GE allows users to ‘travel the world through a virtual globe and view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, and much more’ (Google Earth 2010).
Munster (2008) considers whether GE can be viewed as ‘sociable media’, identifying that whilst using the program is a solitary process which distinguishes it from sites such as Friendster, the social aspect of GE ‘resides elsewhere and adjacent to the virtual globe’ (pg 131). The community can be found on the online Google Earth Community site, as well as on unofficial sites such as Google Earth Hacks (Munster 2008).
Unlike Munster, I believe GE is a form of sociable media due to a few capabilities it possesses. Zoning in on my local area, I noticed that clicking a logo over the hospital leads to an excerpt from the hospital’s Wikipedia page; similarly, the local sports club has a logo which leads to an excerpt from its Yellow Pages business listing. Most striking, however, is the ability for users to upload photos – after creating a ‘Panaramio’ account, I decided to upload a picture that I took at La Perouse and mark its location on the satellite images. Once my image has been reviewed, it will appear on the GE program. I would consider this ‘folksonomy’ as there is the ‘user-generated tagging of content’ (Warschauer and Grimes 2007, pg 2). I think that this strengthens the argument that GE is a form of social network; tagging functions provide a link between the separate GE community and the actual GE globe, ensuring that the social aspect of the program is not necessarily removed from its visual environment.
– Katie Challita 3663620
Munster, Anna (2008), ‘Welcome to Google Earth’, Critical Digitial Studies: A Reader, eds Arthur Kroker and Marilouise Kroker, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, pp. 398-416
Warschauer, Mark and Grimes, Douglas (2007) ‘Audience, Authorship and Artefact: The Emergent Semiotics of Web 2.0,’ Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, vol 27, pp. 1-23)
Google Earth 2010, ‘About Google Earth: What is Google Earth?, accessed 18/9/2010 via http://earth.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=176145
Image is a screenshot from Google Earth