Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Eyes and Ears

Although the online version of The Los Angeles Times doesn't yet contain a "technology" section, stories about digital rhetoric dominated today's front page. "Intrepid Armchair Explorers" describes the travel narratives of those who use the popular mapping service Google Earth to search for oddities recorded at the exact occasion of photographing a particular segment of topography.

"These are life's moments that are unexpectedly caught from above," said Jason Lee, 30, a Bellingham, Wash., marketer. He and computer programmer Jon Coogan run Bird's Eye Tourist, a website that compiles things of interest submitted by users of a Live Search Maps feature known as bird's eye view.

What may appear as a blemish to digital mapmakers is becoming sport for virtual discoverers. The hunt is on to find and share those moments.

The Google Earth Community and independent enthusiast sites such as Google Earth Blog, Google Sightseeing and Bird's Eye Tourist serve as repositories for these finds, where people can discuss, for example, a submarine captured in a permanent state of departure from Tokyo Bay (the bow-wake characteristics and sail-to-rudder measurement suggest it is a Yushio class sub, a Google Earth Community veteran concluded).

John Hanke, director of Google Earth and Maps, said the hunt for interesting things reminded him of the Web's early days, before search engines and directories.

"There's a huge amount of undiscovered territory out there for these geo-explorers to go and explore," he said.

The other digital rhetoric story continues the saga of embarrassing audio files accidentally posted on the web by the California governor's office. In "Subjects of Schwarzenegger's recorded jabs resist counterpunching," law-makers -- from both parties -- who were the subjects of nasty private comments are described as discounting the impact of the governor's opinions, given that they weren't intended to be taken as public speech. Largely legislators have responded with "no comment" or their best witty replies.

In other news, the Virtualpolitik home office celebrated passing the 500 posting mark last night.

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