Vice President Al Gore delivered a forward-looking speech titled “The Digital Earth: Understanding our Planet in the 21st Century” at the California Science Center in Los Angeles on 31 January 1998. Regardless of how you feel about Al Gore, every geospatial professional should read this once in a while – to both congratulate ourselves on how much progress we’ve made, and remind us there is still work to be done.
“A new wave of technological innovation is allowing us to capture, store, process and display an unprecedented amount of information about our planet and a wide variety of environmental and cultural phenomena. Much of this information will be “georeferenced” – that is, it will refer to some specific place on the Earth’s surface.
“I believe we need a “Digital Earth”. A multi-resolution, three-dimensional representation of the planet, into which we can embed vast quantities of geo-referenced data.”
You can read Gore’s complete speech here [PDF]
For a good overview of what’s happened in the last 12 years, see Digital Earth on Wikipedia