I’m surprised at the surprise with which some are greeting the announcement of SketchUp’s purchase. Conventional Google and search engine blogs are trying not to be befuddled — this is getting way beyond search, and they don’t like it. But even some CAD blogs are scratching their heads.
The Irish are all over this, however (smart people). Geared Up Blog:
What models? You wait! Entire towns will be mapped all over the world, for Google. If everyone maps their village/district/block, can you imagine the resource this would create? Woah.
If Google bought it and gave it away as it did with Picasa it could easily recruit a huge team of volunteer 3D modellers to fill in the gaps on Google Earth. I for one would happily create a ‘freehand’ model of my local town. Wouldn’t you?
Exactly. The main thesis sustaining this blog is that Google Earth is a next-generation browser. It’s a social tool, above all, with a mission to mirror the real world. Just as HTML browsers have had content built for them with successively more sophisticated authoring tools, so too Google Earth needs to kick-start the virtuous circle that will propel geobrowsing.
Additionally, the idea of the geobrowser is predicated on the notion that much of what is found on the internet can in fact be tied to a specific place on Earth, and that we are more used to navigating physical spaces like Earth than abstract spaces like the internet (not surprising, considering that we’ve had a 4,000-generation head start with the former over the latter.) Until now, we’ve made do with the abstraction of the internet because we hadn’t yet reached the technological tipping point that made virtual Earths a feasible mass phenomenon. (The two are not really ‘worlds apart’, though. Think IP = geographic coordinate pair, web URL = street address.) Soon, we’ll have two snugly interlocking metaphors for browsing humanity’s collected knowledge: topic and place. Internet and Earth.
Or maybe the two teams just got along really well and Google had some spare cash…