For my example of a Web 2.0 product I chose Google Earth. The reason for this is the revolutionary way that Google has created a brand-new platform for collaboration, community and information gathering.
At first glance Google Earth seems to be just a 3-D mapping application; however, if you explore the additional functionality, you are introduced to a multitude of tie-ins. These are a sample:
- Layers: Using Google Earth Layers, a user can overlay information from a myriad of sources. Powered by Google search and other feeds we now have graphical drill-down access to information ranging from restaurant locations (think Ad Sense revenue!), community services, transportation, shopping to even historical volcano and earthquake locations.
- Wikipedia: Building on layers, the information provided by the Wikipedia community adds deeper-levels of knowledge to Google Earth, readily enhancing the quality of the service.
- Google Earth Community: A good deal of the application’s development no longer rests solely on Google. By leveraging a community model, individuals from around the world including GIS mappers, photographers and hobbyists are all capable of adding unlimited content (new layers, pictures and information) in a self-policing, on-demand manner.
Perhaps the most important feature Google Earth brings to the table is continued lifeblood to Google's core search engine product. Recalling my previous post about interfaces, Google Earth could be the way to contextualize the next generation of the web. Instead of being confined to 2-D text-based searches, we can now use graphics and images to crawl information previously hidden from view. In fact, as information databases grow, bandwidth becomes "infinite" and we start to look towards Web 3.0, what’s to keep Google from creating Google Moon, Google Mars or Google Milky Way?
Encyclopedia Britannica, Encarta, Yahoo, Mapquest, et al are woefully unprepared.