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Google presents blurry image of Ohio Valley

January 8, 2008 - Art Smith
Are you a Google fan?

If you are, you are not alone. Recent studies have shown that around 65 percent of people using search engines, do so by using Google.

I normally fall into that group if I am looking for something on the Web. Obviously I spend a lot of time on the Web, and a fair amount of time on Google.

Google is a huge company with thousands of smart employees. They have come up with a lot of interesting "products" that most people are not aware of because they never click on the "more" button.

One of the neatest is a free application called Google Earth. Google Earth is basically the modern version of a globe. Google has taken aerial and satellite photos of the entire plant and hooked them together to produce a photo of the entire planet. You can zoom in to any place on the globe, you can even tilt the image so it appears that you are looking out the window of an airplane. You can fly over any area with a built in flight simulator.

Various overlays allow you to add things like labels for roads, points of interest and terrain. Terrain uses known elevations to raise mountain and hill to the proper height in the photo.

The quality of the photos is stunning. Zoom into a neighborhood in Phoenix and you can tell what kind of car is in the driveway. Zoom into Disney World and you can clearly see people walking around the Magic Kingdom.

Just don't try zooming into Parkersburg or Marietta. The quality is horrible. Not only can you not make out people, you can hardly see the communities.

Big deal you say. If I want to look at the valley, I'll just look out the window.

It is a big deal. The valley is on the raw end of the digital divide and in this case and it's bound to hurt.

People use the Web to do research by the millions. Students use it, grandmothers use  it, and companies use it.

Google Earth is great for companies. You could be setting in New York, Seattle, Tokyo or any place in between. Type in any address where you may be thinking of locating a business and boom, you can see the whole neighborhood.

Type in an address in Parkersburg or Marietta and all you see is a blur.

To illustrate how bad it is I posted a "photo" from Google Earth of Second and Putnam streets in Marietta and from a downtown street corner in Marietta, GA.

If you were the person in charge of picking new locations for Starbucks, which corner would you locate on?

You will also find some photos that show how great Google Earth can be.  The sad thing is there are fairly sharp photos of the area available. They just are not on Google Earth, or the map service Google has, Google Maps.




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Second and Putnam Streets is nothing but a blur.


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