Virtual travel in history

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Its creator has called it a “virtual time machine” – a digital reconstruction of ancient Rome that yesterday became available to internet users around the world. Users of Google Earth can now see the city, down to the last aqueduct and arena, as it looked at noon on April 1 AD 320. They can navigate through the Forum, past the platform or rostra from which Cicero once declaimed, admire the statues, read the inscriptions, pry into palaces, and then slip round to the Colosseum or whisk over to the Circus Maximus where the ancient Romans held their chariot races.

There, the virtual traveller will find not the slightly disappointing, enormous oval expanse of grass that confronts the real tourist, but the huge, walled stadium that they are forced to conjure up from their imagination.

It is the “Rome of [the emperor] Constantine in which everything is new”, said Google Earth’s chief technologist, Michael T Jones, at the presentation in Rome’s city hall. “It’s new. It’s modern. It’s beautiful.”

All the awe-inspiringly detailed reconstruction lacks is people. Their absence gives a slightly eerie feel to the stadiums and temples, marketplaces and thoroughfares of classical Rome.

Some 6,700 digitally recreated structures have gone towards making up the latest “layer”, which can be superimposed on Google Earth’s images of the city. Ten of the buildings, such as the Colosseum, can be entered so users can marvel at the architecture and even gaze on details like marble floors, whose exact shape and pattern are known because their remains have survived to the present.

The first concerted effort to re-create the ancient imperial capital was made by Italian architect Italo Gismondi. Three years before his death in 1974 he finished a vast plaster model of ancient Rome in 1:250 scale that can be seen in the city’s Museo della Civiltà Romana.

Gismondi’s research played an important role in the project, begun in 1997 by Bernard Frischer, a teacher at the University of Virginia (UVA). After 10 years of work and collaboration between UVA, the University of California, Los Angeles, and Milan’s Politecnico, Rome Reborn – made up of 50 million polygons (the building blocks of three-dimensional computer graphics) – was unveiled last year.

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Jeff Jarvis: Why Google defines the new digital economy

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The financial crisis might be damaging countless companies around the world, but last month Google announced another quarter of growth, with profit up 26%. When it reported similar results two quarters before, The New York Times‘ headline proclaimed, “Google defies economy.” It should have read, “Google defines economy.”

In this crisis, we are witnessing more than the failure of mortgages, derivatives, banks, and regulation. We are also seeing the dawn of a new economy; one best viewed and understood through the lens of Google, the one company that — by design or by luck — is built for the emerging world order.

Google’s first advantage is being digital. Who wants to be in the business of stuff anymore—building cars, printing newspapers, selling CDs, growing food? Owning and controlling stuff was the basis of most business. And the reflexive response to a collapse in finance and equities used to be to return to the real: buy property. No more. Now the best retreat is to the value of knowledge.

In a sense, Google itself is built on a derivative: its data on data. Like the derivatives that got us into this mess, Google’s are based on creating abundance. But unlike those corrupted financial products, Google’s metaknowledge creates new and real value.

In Google’s economy, small is the new big. Of course, big is still big — Google itself is gargantuan. But it doesn’t grow by borrowing capital to buy companies (likely no one will for some time to come). Instead, Google created a network for an abundance of new advertisers and a platform for countless new businesses, all independent of Google. Indeed, Google does not want to own the assets — content to commerce — upon which its empire is built.

To succeed like Google, companies will build networks and platforms as it does. eBay‘s platform enables thousands of merchants to sell more than America’s largest department-store chain, Federated. In Google’s era, the mass market is replaced by a mass of niches. So by continuing to track and measure only the biggest businesses — as the FTSE, the Dow Jones Average, and Nielsen ratings do — we miss sight of the small economy.

Another hallmark of Google’s economy is transparency. Even as Google remains opaque about details of how it does business — its ad commission, for example — it demands transparency of the rest of us. For without openness, we get no search-engine optimization, no precious Googlejuice. Regulators, customers, and citizens, too, surely will demand more transparency in business now that we have been so badly burned by secrets hidden in what are now glibly called toxic assets. Online, the truth is often just a link away.

This link economy that is the real basis of Google’s success, can also bring business benefits for other industries. Struggling and rapidly shrinking newspapers can now specialize—a local paper becomes more local and links to national coverage. Do what you do best and link to the rest, I tell editors.

Marketers are also beginning to learn that with direct links and relationships with customers, they may reduce ad spending. But relationships between companies and customers must be built on trust, and trust comes from handing over control. David Weinberger, author of Everything’s Miscellaneous, puts it this way: “There is an inverse relationship between control and trust.” Post-meltdown, the public will demand control — the internet and Google provide tools they will use to seize it.

Trust itself is becoming the basis for new business. eBay’s systems enable customers to anoint merchants with trust; Amazon demonstrates that we trust the opinions of fellow customers over critics; PayPal and Prosper help us make trusted transactions; Google knows which sites we trust with our links and clicks. We don’t trust banks anymore; hell, they don’t trust each other. In Google we trust.

Google manifests the business of trust in its famous decree, “don’t be evil.” Etch that over doors on Wall Street. If enough people had asked whether getting and issuing toxic mortgages, and making and selling toxic assets was evil — instead of someone else’s problem — I wonder whether we’d be in this mess. Our meltdown was not inevitable. But the transition to a Google economy is.

Ranthambhore Bagh

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“Regular visitors consider Ranthambore, as one of the best national parks in the world to see Bengal tigers, wild, in their natural habitat. ” Ranthambhore Bagh is a safari lodge and the fruits of labour of Aditya and Poonam Singh. A visit to Rajasthan would be incomplete without a glimpse of the Indian tiger. A stay at Ranthambhore Bagh makes it unique !

Aditya  Dicky Singh is a keen passionate Wild Life Photographer, wildlife enthusiast, conservationist. His pictures can be found at ranthambhore.

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British Style Genius

British Style Genius – Breaking the Rules

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The BBC has gone and done it again. Their new series British Style Genius is amazing. The 3 rebels of the British fashion world were featured in the last programme called Breaking the Rules. You can watch it online for the next 5 days – be quick Watching the couture collections of Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood’s rise from Punk to Dame was mind blowing. Makes me proud to be British as we don’t follow any rules and have the best street style in the world and that’s official.

Coastal homes

I have lately been looking for some design inspirations …

I saw this … :  Elsewhere Goa. You would think it is a Spanish dig ? wrong. India, there you go.

Some fab designs where the love for all things natural is obvious. Light and air are king and queen of this concept. Why not ? the spot demands it. Sand, Sun, Sea …. wait is this a cliche tag line ? havelis, maharajahs, brocades, silk, gold, gems, spices  …… India has more than you ever know …

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