Geobrowsing the Globe: A Geovisual Analysis of Google Earth Usage

GeoViz: Linking Geovisualization with Spatial Analysis and Modeling, 10-11 March 2011, Hamburg, Germany

Pablo Abend, Tristan Thielmann, Ralph Ewerth, Dominik Seiler, Markus Mühling, Jörg Döring, Manfred Grauer, and Bernd Freisleben

“In this paper, a semantic approach to the analysis of the recorded on-screen navigation within virtual globes is presented using the example of Google Earth. In order to explore and visualize geobrowsing behaviour systematically, we have extended the video analysis software Videana for the analysis of Google Earth tours. The software’s functionality comprises the detection of ‘text bubbles’, the visualization of dominant/average colour values, and the allocation of ‘virtual camera’ movements. On the basis of a multiple case study this paper demonstrates that on-screen navigation behaviour is largely defined by the morphology of the landscape and, to a lesser extent, by the navigational aids and the additional multimedia information provided. Top view and orientation towards True North are most often retained. Users generally prefer satellite views rich in contrast where they can identify map contours. Thus, an established form of map use exists that has also been applied to virtual globes.”