Boy, are those media-savvy farmers or what?
Highlights: Hanke credits the original idea for Google Earth to Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash. He also says they’re working on refreshing the data for Google Earth approximately every 18 months. And when asked if Google Earth presents a security risk, he says that the authorities know the resolution of the maps is not sufficiently precise to contribute to a terrorist threat, and that the images are not in real time anyway.
Google Earth Hacks went live within days of Google Earth’s release, and three weeks in was 1,000 members strong. Six weeks in, GEH’s library of user-submitted Google Earth files stands at over 2,500 items, with over 1,250,000 downloads. That’s quite a launch. Ogle Earth interviews GEH’s Mickey Mellen.
OE: Google Earth Hacks: Whose fault is it?
Mickey: All mine. It really started because, like most of us, I was spending WAY too much time playing with Google Earth. I figured “If I’m gonna spend so much time using this thing, I might as well build a site based on it”.
OE: What is it about you that attracted you to Google Earth? Do you have a programming background, a GIS background…?
Mickey: I’ve never really been a GIS guy. I’ve built a number of large sites using PHP and thought I could create a nice KML/KMZ file library for people to use. I’ve got a couple nice web servers already, so the initial creation of the site cost virtually no money. The hours spent on it have been a bit insane, though…
OE: How do you plan to become rich off Google Earth?
Mickey: Not sure yet. :) If traffic keeps growing like it is, those little Adsense ads might help. Maybe my best hope is that I’ll get bought out for some insane amount of money. I don’t see either one happening any time soon…
OE: In the month and a half Google Earth’s been out, what’s the most impressive hack you’ve seen, not counting your own (like GEWar)?
Mickey: I’m still thinking that the Flickr Images network link from GeoBloggers is the top one. In terms of Google Earth, this hack is quite old. However, there are a number of network links that work in a similar way, but that was the first one that I saw.
OE: What’s standing between Google Earth and perfection? What would you like to see in Google Earth that’s not there now?
Mickey: A few small things. First, more rapid satellite image updates. I’m not sure there’s been any new images pasted on the globe since they released it. I’d love to see new areas going high-res every couple weeks. The second would be better handling of 3D objects. I’ve seen a number of very cool 3D objects (like the Statue of Liberty found on our site) that just bring Google Earth to a crawl. Ideally, you’d want to have lots of items in 3D on your globe, but that just can’t happen currently if the items have much detail to them. I’m not sure how they can fix this, but I’m sure it’ll slowly improve over time.
Geoplace.com homes in on the business side of Google Earth with John Hanke, general manager for Keyhole at Google.
So Google reserves the right to add ads to Google Maps in the future (as we knew). The question I really would have liked to have asked John Hanke is, Are you planning to monetize Google Earth the same way? Perhaps via contextual ads in the dashboard? Selling of sponsored folders?
Anybody who’s spent any time at all on the official Google/Keyhole community bulletin board has run into site administrator and Google Earth power user “Seer”. With over 2,600 posts under his belt since 2002, he is the go-to person for all things Google Earthly, and so I asked for an interview. Here comes the first installment.
In my first couple of questions, I ask him about how it feels to hit the big time, and what he thinks of the unofficial community sites that are springing up around Google Earth. Highlights:
…It never occurred to me that there would be other sites, though as soon as I saw the first one I realized that there would be many more…
…The user-created data layers started with the Google Earth Community and are expanding in several new directions. Anyone with Placemarks to publish on the Google Earth is someone that we want to know…
Read the whole first installment below the fold.