The launch of Google News on Google Earth is a milestone in the evolution of the geobrowser. By spatially locating the Google News’ constantly updating index of stories from more than 4,500 news sources, Google Earth now shows an ever-changing world of human activity as chronicled by reporters worldwide.
The amount of content available Google Earth is astounding, but even more interesting is the ways in which content can be mashed. Well-established companies have partnered and are contributing vetted content (eg, New York Times, National Geographic), but there is as much, if not more, community created content (eg, Goggle Earth Community, You Tube, Panaramio, wikipedia). In addition, these layers are not limited to words and links, but are multi-media. They include audio, video, and images.
Here’s a screencast illustrating how Google Earth, Google News, and the other layers can mash to create dynamic stories.
Chris Anderson (Long Tail fame) also talks about the Vanishing Point theory of news which is the conceptual basis for hyperlocal journalism. He points out that, “our interest in a subject is in inverse proportion to its distance (geographic, emotional or otherwise) from us.” The Google Earth toolset allows us to play with these factors. Events that happen on my block might interest me, but aren’t news. (Like the guy across the street that keeps “leaving” his old furniture on the corner.) I appreciate being able to choose what is of interest across the globe, what is of interest in my zip-code, what is of interest on my block: the focus is mine to determine. And I like the engagement of media medias.
In addition to updates and upgrades to Google Earth (Street View was added to the latest version, 4.3), Google Maps added Panaramio (photos) and wikipedia.
Certainly local news organizations can (and, indeed, must) find a model that mashes these various medias and modalities to fit their community.