Today was the first day of ISDE5. There were talks by representatives of several countries discussing the importance of the Digital Earth concept for disseminating information about our planet. The recurring theme, not surprisingly, is the dramatic climatic changes which are occurring and humankind’s responsibility to take action to either try and limit the damage we are causing, or try and prepare ourselves to adapt to whatever changes may happen. The ISDE attendees seem to be an interesting mix of scientists, politicians, technologists, environmentalists, students, and even spiritualists. The common theme seems to be concerns about our planet, but the approaches and philosophies seem diverse. In addition to the talks, there is an exhibit hall set up with booths showing mostly technologies related to digital earth applications. For example: Microsoft Virtual Earth, Google Earth, 3DConnexion (SpaceNavigator), Spot Image, NOAA (showing their Second Life experience), GeoFusion, ESRI, NASA, etc. I will cover more about the exhibitors later in the week.
We got to hear Edgar Mitchell, former NASA astronaut, and the 6th man to walk on the moon during Apollo 14 with Alan Shepherd. He shared a nicely prepared Powerpoint slideshow of the experience of his trip to the moon. He also shared how it altered his perception of our small planet (something I’ve heard from nearly every astronaut I’ve heard talk or spoken to). We also heard a very interesting talk by Doug Engelbart – the inventor of the mouse, the graphical user interface, and many other important concepts we all use every day with our computers.
A very important highlight for me personally. I finally met my fellow GE blogger – Stefan Geens of OgleEarth in person! He and I have been e-mailing and VOIPing for nearly two years, but it is great to meet in person at last. He is working with the International Polar Year people who are presenting at ISDE. I will make sure to get a photo of the two of this week and post it here soon.
Michael Jones made a presentation which he re-titled: “State of Digital Earth”. His presentation was quite similar to what was given at the Where 2.0 conference (re-using many of the slides). Read my running account of Michael’s Where presentation, and a video of a shortened version of his speech at GDD. A few differences particularly addressed to this audience. He highlighted several examples of uses of GE he feels illustrate how it is helping people: the International Polar Year (which will be presenting this week), the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the French election results, and how people used GE to help with Hurricane Katrina disaster recovery operations. He once again highlighted Angelina Jolie’s geo-tattoo. More importantly, he made some points about how people have started altering their behavior since the advent of the Internet and, more recently, Google Earth have become a part of our lives. His key point is that the Digital Earth – in the form of virtual globes – is already making a significant impact on raising awareness about the importance of our planet. And I wholeheartedly agree with his sentiment. Many people who are regular readers of GEB have told me their perceptions of the importance of our planet has been changing since they began regularly using GE.