My five favourite Google Earth Oddities

January 31, 2007 at 8:08 am | Posted in Art, Globalization, Google, Web 2.0 | 30 Comments
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I’ve never discovered a Google Earth Oddity myself, and I doubt that I ever will (although I’ve tried): Scanning the surface of the globe for an interesting squaremetre is definitely a too tedious job to be considered a possible path of fame. But I like looking at other people’s discoveries – have a look at my little collection!

I find it difficult to make up my mind, but at least for this brief moment this one is my favourite: Strong language spelled in wheat on a field outside Little Houghton in England.
53°32’19.41″N 1°20’47.87″W

This is the runner-up – an artwork created by Italian (I think) artist Gelitin and captured by Google Earth. I like this in particular because I first saw it in a book (and posted about in October 2006). Even if Gelitin isn’t Italian, the bunny is (or was, but it’s hopefully going to remain on GE).
Pink Rabbit
44°14’39.30″N 7°46’10.98″E

Mantra set in ice
This is particularly neat: A Tibetan mantra (said to mean “om mani peme hung” according to the source forum) carved into the ice of a glacier.
Tibetan Mantra
32°54’36.35″N 97°02’52.00″E

Or saying hello, or living here. Proof for the fact that smileys are always endearing. Captured in the USA.
Bruce and Dan
47°14’28.03″N 122°31’46.16″W

Whoever or whatever. Also made in the US of A and hopefully not a PR-Stunt – although, even if it were, this is probably nothing more significant than the logo of a local football team.
The M
39°44’41.09″N 105°14’23.95″W

I found all these gems in the fark forum.

If you want to give it a try yourself, download Google Earth (it’s free AND runs on both PC and Mac:-) and enter the coordinates which I’ve specified below each picture.

EDIT: I had another favorite Google Earth oddity but wasn’t able to find the link for some time. I’ve dug it up now, but only to discover that Google Earth itself (i.e. the company) does quite apparently NOT appreciate the idea of Google Earth oddities – they photoshopped that giant bug belonging to the order of Thrysanoptera (vulgo: Thrips) away that was roaming the fields outside Aalen in Germany! That’s surprisingly anti-Web2.0 from them – erasing the traces of users’ discoveries. I managed to find a screen shot of the location from the time when the bug was still there (see below):

Google Earth

But if you have look at the site now (link to location on Google maps online, you might want to zoom out a bit), you’ll find that it’s gone. No more. Dead. You can even see where it was, as the new patch of soil they added does not blend in well – different shades of green. Pffff… I hope they are going to give us our bug back some day!
Google Earth

Paupers of the information age

December 5, 2006 at 2:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

For a lesson on quizshows, I had asked a colleague who receives BBC programmes to record the Weakest Link and Eggheads. He recorded it on VHS, I transferred it to DVD with a DVD recorder. Tough luck, however: The data layer of both DVDs is coming off! I’ve got no idea what caused this. Guess I should ask whether this is a problem that occured with the whole batch. The video’s lost anyway – still have it on VHS, but no VHS player in the classroom!

As mentioned earlier: Going digital might lead to a temporary exponential increase in global knowledge (stored knowledge, that is, not circulating knowledge: dead knowledge if you want to), but sooner or later it is all going to go down the drain.

We are NOT the kings of information, we are the future paupers of the information age. By the time the zeros and naughts will disintegrate along with the storage media that carry them, our inherent memory (a.k.a. brain) will be so weak that we’ll hardly be able to remember the phone numbers of our beloved ones (“Sorry, stored them on my phone, SIM card’s on the fritz!”)

Understanding Media: RSS feeds

December 3, 2006 at 11:21 am | Posted in Web 2.0 | 4 Comments
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Today is the day that I want to find out what the fuss is all about with RSS feeds. They’ve been around for a couple of years now, and as the average dummy user seems to be beginning to use them (blog feeds, pod feeds, what have you), I suppose it’s time to devote some attention to them. I’ve ignored them in the same way as I have ignored news readers in the past. When it comes to push technology, an email newsletter seems to be as far as I’m willing to go (I installed a newsreader I think in 1998 and subsribed to the university of Cologne news and to a postmodern news group – no trace of anything newsworthy in the former, and nothing but intellectual flatulations in the latter.)

Ever since Lenina announced that she’d add me to her feeds if I sustained a one post per day output I’ve begun to look into this RSS feed thingy. I first added feed widgets to my blog, not really knowing what I was doing or what anybody else would be able to do with them.

One day later, I looked at my feed stats for the first time: Apparently 16 people had ‘read my feed’:
Feed stats

I’m putting this in quotation marks as I honestly have no clue what that is supposed to indicate. What happened on these people’s computer when they ‘read my feed’? Did they get some type of notification, a little email saying “Jana has posted something new”? Or how did they find out? And why on earth should anybody be interested in getting a notification about the soliloquious jabberings of mine? To be honest, I actually found the thought a bit disconcerting. I wondered who these people were. Would I know them? Would I be able to come up with a total of 16 names of people I know that might be interested? Quite frankly not.

Then again, this was probably one of the famous Web 2.0 effects – stick a tag on your content, and someone interested will find it (yet again, as mentioned earlier, my most employed tag is ‘F***ing Vorarlberg’ – who’d be looking for that tag?)

Nevertheless, some people must have been looking at this blog (that I think of as a diary software rather than an online publication), as it has had some 800 visits so far, 49 visits alone on its best day:
Blog stats

That was the day I wrote about the antifascist demonstration here in f***ing ole Dornburn. I know these numbers are NOTHING in comparison to Lenina’s blog, yet I still keep wondering where all those people come from.

Anyhow, to draw this first investigation into RSS feeds to a close: On my computer, I don’t seem to be able to use them, maybe because Mac OS X 10.3.9. (no, I still don’t have the 10.4 version) or rather the browsers for this OS don’t support feeds sufficiently. If I open feed URLs in one of my (three) browser, I get this:

Safari (still my favourite, though probably no longer the best for Mac – but like many Mac users, I feel slavishly indebted to Apple’s own software):

Internet Explorer for Mac (I think Microsoft has stopped the support for this browser completely):


And this is probably already my best bet on the browsers that I have: The post headings can be fed into a Firefox favourites menu:

But can the whole RSS fuss really be about a drop down menu that updates itself? Is this Web 2.0? If not, is this persuading push technology at least?

Dunno, I am not convinced. Will have to look into one of this RSS feed readers (but yet another browser on my lappy? gnarl….)

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