It seems impossible to see most of the world. Traveling is expensive, and even if you had unlimited funds to travel, many parts of the world are simply not accessible. And yet, knowing about our world is important. What to do?
Thanks to the internet, the world is now becoming more open and accessible than it has ever been before. And while we fret about the bad people online and the ubiquitous “trash” content, whether it be LOLcats or celebrity gossip, the truth is that the internet is an absolutely amazing resource filled with so much useful information that it would probably take a person longer to view it all than it would be to travel to every place in the world and see it all.
So, let’s take a journey…
My first resource for wanting to explore the world is the absolutely fantastic piece of software known as Google Earth. With it, you can explore every corner of the earth via satellite imagery. Of course, this is just the beginning…At first, you’re many miles above the earth, but you can zoom in to just about everywhere, and get a very clear picture of what a place looks like as if you were flying over the place. Seeing it from above is one thing, but as you zoom in closer and closer, you begin to notice icons in Google Earth. These icons trigger all sorts of other media and information. Some icons represent pictures, some represent videos, some even pop up Wikipedia articles.
It’s so easy (and rewarding) to get sucked in too. One time I was checking out Google Earth, looking for the other Hawaiian islands. We all know about Oahu, Hawaii, Maui, Kauai, etc. but there are actually 137 ‘islands’ that are part of Hawaii. I was checking out the tiny ones that are mostly uninhabited. Before I knew it, I was looking at satellite pictures of the South Pacific and French Polynesia.
One tiny tiny island caught my attention, however. I saw all of these tiny black dots around the island, and I was curious. I zoomed in, and discovered that I was looking at Bora Bora, and the tiny dots were those famous over-water bungalow hotel rooms. Fascinated by this tiny island, I couldn’t resist looking at the hundreds of pictures that people had taken (and posted to Panoramio, which shows up in Google Earth), and all of the Wikipedia articles I could find about not only the island of Bora Bora, but its more famous island neighbor, Tahiti. As my interest continued, I read about how the French came to be involved with Polynesia, then about Polynesian culture in general. In just a short period of time, I had read so much and looked at so many pictures (and checked out airfares and hotel prices), that I had begun to feel connected to the place and the people.
With these tools at our disposal, it is so easy to see the world and learn more about it. The knowledge we absorb can stimulate our minds and imaginations, and even help us get that impossible ‘Final Jeopardy!’ question right. The most exciting thing is that I can explore various places around the world in detail, probably forever. So, where do you want to go today? Addis Ababa? Pyongyang? Sao Paolo? They’re all waiting for you in Google Earth and on Wikipedia. Why not take some time to explore the world with your children and families? Happy travels!
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