I Can See For Miles

I first got into satellite mapping a few years ago, when I got my Handspring Visor GPS receiver and tried geocaching. There was a free program called USAPhotoMaps that took advantage of Microsoft's TerraServer -- with some tinkering I was able to plot my travel routes directly onto the maps.

It was pretty cool, but cumbersome. Now Google's brought satellite imagery to the masses, and by overlaying high arial photos with road maps, they've got a feature that's insanely addictive.

There are at least two metafilter threads (1,2) that talk about the process and point out some sites. And hackers are making inroads: Curbed cites the an innovative tool that combines GoogleMaps and Craigslist rentals, and the sociological implications. And Flickr has a new section for "memory-maps" -- satellite photos with personal annotations. And there's some funny ground-level views (1,2) of what google searches must look like.

But the best of all is a new blog called Google Sightseeing, where readers submit interesting and comment on them. Recent highlights include the 98-acre Boeing factory, the planes caught in-flight, and the "Leucke" signature, easily the world's largest font. My submission is the spewing volcano Kilauea.

No one can tell me yet why my home state looks so dreary. Keyhole has meticulously photographed the state in a different season, or with a different camera, than the surrounding states. It makes Massachusetts look drab and gray, and reminds me a little of this TNG episode, but in reverse.

Though when you look at the Big Dig circa 2003, it does kind of resemble a wasteland.