Insights · August 27th, 2007

I’ve been managing geographic information systems (GIS) professionals for a long time, I’ve listened to Jack Dangermond, who owns the biggest GIS company – Environmental Systems Research Institute talk passionately about mapping as a way to save the world. Look in our archives for an article I wrote in 2000.

ESRI has always been a true innovator, and essentially created the GIS industry. They created maps that could help make sense of the world. Animal migrations. People migrations. Global warming. Legal boundaries of houses, towns, and countries. War. Hurricane Katrina response…I could go on and on.

And then Google Earth, and eventually Microsoft Virtual Earth, made this power accessible to everyone. We can use it to find common places and specific addresses. We can all look up aerial photography of our homes, or the house our family member just bought 3 states away. We can map out the route for upcoming triathlons. We can see Iraq, and Darfur. In a virtual way, they’ve given us the view of astronauts.

And now they’ve given us Google Sky: a view of all we know about the heavens. This should do four things:
1. Astonish us at how much we know about things that are truly very, very far away
2. Remind us how small and insignificant we are
3. Convince us to take care of our little planet, since the rest of the Universe is so far away
4. Keep us yearning for the stars (we are, after all, adventurers)
Best of all, Google Earth, and now Sky, are compellingly easy and fun to use.

Brenda Cooper

Category
Science & Tech
NikolasBadminton_ChiefFuturist

Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas is the Chief Futurist of the Futurist Think Tank. He is world-renowned futurist speaker, a Fellow of The RSA, and has worked with over 300 of the world’s most impactful companies to establish strategic foresight capabilities, identify trends shaping our world, help anticipate unforeseen risks, and design equitable futures for all. In his new book – ‘Facing Our Futures’ – he challenges short-term thinking and provides executives and organizations with the foundations for futures design and the tools to ignite curiosity, create a framework for futures exploration, and shift their mindset from what is to WHAT IF…

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