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Hovering above Hovering above
by Riku Pyhala
Issue 9
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Internet search engine company Google released a new product last June: Google Earth. This free program will allow you to see everywhere on the globe, through satellite pictures. It lets you do smooth sailing flybys of the entire Earth, and by entering any associated data, like street addresses or place names, you can fly right there on the spot, in only a few clicks.

Different layer possibilities, like roads, international boundaries, 3D buildings, crime statistics, schools or stadiums make the environment frighteningly living and breathing. Although the pictures aren’t updated in real time, there is a strange feeling of spying when hovering above cities.

Many people, from governments to media representatives, have already showed their worry on how the program might help terrorists and be a giant leap towards an Orwellian society. The God-view-like pictures that hover somewhere around 300 metres above ground show sharply even your own house.

But is this really a problem? It is somehow contradictory how people get truly afraid when they see satellite pictures of their own home, while they themselves are watching reality-TV in their living room. It is a typically human contradiction: tendency towards voyeurism and want to be seen, but at the same time grabbing tightly on to the basic need to maintain privacy.

So let’s not forget the plus sides: educational possibilities, a chance for people to explore and visualize parts of the world they will probably never be able to visit. Sound familiar? These are the same phrases used when internet first came. Therefore, it should be quite natural to also meet the same fears, the same conflicts.

One thing also worth remembering: it all comes down to pictures. Already people are disappointed with the programs tilting possibilities, everything goes flat and buildings disappear, only a few are in 3D. So no-one will fly in to my home and explore the dishes on my kitchen table, after all. What a shame!

Check it out: http://earth.google.com
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