April 19, 2006

I spy, with ...

As countless other sticky-beaks have done before me, I frittered away several hours today using Google Earth to swoop down onto all the places I've lived, or visited, or even just heard about. It is rivetting stuff, and quite addictive.
What amused me nearly as much as the vertiginous dips and dives was the apparently random nature of the resolution. Here am I, in a small, semi-rural, outer-metropolitan suburb on the unfashionable side of a vast continent, and I can clearly see my garden shed (admittedly a bit fuzzy, but still identifiable), and the paths where I walk my dogs through nearby bushland, and even the graffiti on a council water tank. Using the tilt feature, I can identify the steepest parts of my daily walk, and make a mental note not to bother exploring that other path because it looks far too difficult. All useful stuff, but surely not of great interest to whoever pays for the satellite?
But when I try to hover over friends in the SW of England, or the NW states of the USA, where the population density is almost unimaginable by Western Australian standards, I find the closest I can get is a blurry distinction between urban and rural land use. Only very large roads and rivers can be seen, and perhaps the suggestion of residential areas as distinct from industrial ones. Certainly no buildings are identifiable at all, and yet these are areas one could imagine being of greater interest, whether for boring urban planning reasons or for intriguing security ones.

Ahh. Maybe that's the answer. I live in a sufficiently peaceful and uninteresting part of the world that the images collected incidentally while on the way to somewhere more vital can be released to everyone, everywhere. Well that's fine by me, and if you tell me when you'll be dropping in, I'll make sure I have the kettle on. :-)

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