This is the 200th post on this blog, which isn't a lot compared to the 3000 on Living Geography, but sometimes it's quality not quantity. The blog started back in 2006, and a workshop on Google Earth at the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers conference.
At the time I'd just got an RGS Innovative Geography Teaching award to produce Earth: a Users' Guide.
Which turned into this blog..
Over the years since I've continued to make use of Google Earth, and explored creative ways of using it for fieldwork, coursework and story-telling. Tom Barrett and I had an application for a Google grant (not successful on that occasion) and I've also met up with Richard Treves who has similarly made really effective use of Google Earth in higher education.
Even in the last few days, there's been the appearance of this CARBON VISUALS resource which offers some interesting ways of exploring energy efficiency in the city of London and beyond.
And now we have the significant milestone of 1 billion downloads of Google Earth
Lot of news coverage:
"Google Earth is probably one of the most downloaded applications of all time in terms of raw numbers," product manager Peter Birch told AFP.
To provide context, Google Earth and Maps vice president of engineering Brian McClendon pointed out that a billion hours ago humans were living in the Stone Age and that a billion minutes ago the Roman Empire was flourishing.
"We're proud of our one billion milestone, but we're even more amazed at the way people have used Google Earth to explore the world," McClendon said.
"When we founded Keyhole, Inc. back in 2001 we never imagined our geospatial technology would be used by people in so many unexpected ways," he continued.
McClendon was a co-founder of startup Keyhole, which Google bought in 2004 and turned into the free online Earth atlas launched in June of the following year.
The service weaves satellite images and aerial photos into 3D interactive graphics which people can zoom into, starting from space and homing in on buildings or plots of land.
Google Earth stories include that of a professor from the University of Western Australia who used it to discover ancient tombs and geoglyphs without leaving Perth.
Professor David Kennedy scrutinized Google Earth recreations of thousands of square kilometers (miles) in Saudi Arabia and Jordan, discerning clues to the whereabouts of archeological treasures.
Retired English teacher Jerome Burg created Google Lit Trips, which uses Google Earth to let readers follow paths set in famous books such as "The Travels of Marco Polo" and "The Odyssey" by Homer.
Renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle takes Google Earth users under the seas to rally allies in a quest to stop widespread devastation of marine life.
Conservation group Save the Elephants uses the Internet Age atlas to track and safeguard magnificent pachyderms.
Google Earth has been used to help clear land mines, rebuild earthquake-shattered towns, stop mining operations from blasting off mountain tops, teaching geography to children, or simply see one's home from above.
A US couple living in Ireland even used the online atlas to research an ideal place in Oregon to plant a vineyard.
They didn't see the property in person until it was time to close the deal that led to the founding of their dream winery, Grande Dalles.
"Nobody anticipated all the things people would do with Google Earth," Birch said.
"It's a little hard to know where people are going to take it next," he added. "The more you can raise awareness of how we impact the world, the more there will be a chance for change."
There's also the launch of ONE WORLD MANY STORIES
I'm going to be doing some writing next week for a new Google Earth feature which is due to be launched shortly.
Here's to the next billion downloads...