It was a good idea to turn on Google Earth this Saturday morning — even if the laptop was within destruction reach of a 1.3-year old niece who is attracted to keyboards like an ICBM to its target — because today there was the pleasant surprise of seeing two of the most interesting third-party network links turned into default layers, and placed in a new directory, “Geographic Web”:
- Wikipedia’s georeferenced articles are now available via a layer of placemarks, with the popup containing an overview, photos, and links to further articles. The marriage of Wikipedia with Google Earth was a great idea, and now it’s available by default to a much wider range of people.
- Panoramio, a site for sharing georeferenced photos that has long provided a network link of its photos, is also included inthe new directory. Panoramio’s photos tend to be more post-card/documentary than those on Flickr, so they have an easier time being useful in an educational setting.
In addition, the most highly rated posts of Google Earth Community now get special treatment. I tend to turn on all Google Earth Community layers if I’m zoomed in close and want to find out what I’m seeing. Amid the chaff, there is almost always an answer.
In sum, promoting the best content for Google Earth to a default layer (and presumably hosting it) is easily the biggest bang for the buck the Google Earth team can provide, as well as providing wider exposure for the content providers, and more stuff to do for users. Win-win-win. I’m looking forward to more.