When Google Earth was science fiction (1992)

“Digital Earth” excerpts from Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, circa 1992, including:

There is something new: a globe about the size of grapefruit, a perfectly detailed rendition of Planet Earth, hanging in space at arm’s length in front of his eyes… It’s a piece of CIC software called, simply, Earth. It is the user interface that the CIC uses to keep track of every bit of spatial information that it owns — all the maps, weather data, architectural plans, and satellite surveillance stuff.

If he were in some normal, stable part of the world, like lower Manhattan, this would actually work in 3-D. Instead, he’s got to put up with two-dimensional satellite imagery.

Companies that make science fiction real are my favorite kinds of companies.

There’s more visionary writing about a digital Earth here, including Al Gore’s input. (Via Rags1611’s del.icio.us links)