Saturday, August 25, 2007

Google Sky, Celestia & Stellarium

So Google has added some simple space and sky functionality to Google Earth. Cool enough, that's an objectively good thing.

But let's not forget, there are mature, cross-platform, free applications that already do a great job at looking at the sky from Earth -- Stellarium -- and looking at space from space -- Celestia. I just fired up Stellarium for the first time, and I'm frankly stunned by how cool and polished it is. I clearly have not been spending enough time keeping up with the free education apps. Google Sky is a toy in comparison, and if you're on Ubuntu, it is just a sudo apt-get install stellarium away.

The question for the future is whether or not educational technologists can break away from emphasizing products released by companies and really get behind and promote software which is just there. Can we get behind software that has no publicist and no ad budget and won't be the next big thing because it is already here? Can we operate without a news hook?

1 comment:

Bud said...

Of course we can. The trick is discovering the stuff. You are better at most when it comes to turning over rocks and finding neat stuff - the reason why Google gets so much credit, and I'm as guilty of it as the next guy, is that they've got a killer PR machine.
Everyone I show Celestia to loves it. It's killer - but folks don't know it's there. Somebody's got to do the promotion - "just there" isn't the case if no one can find the good stuff.
Of course, this isn't a new problem - how many organizations have you belonged to that had perfectly good equipment or books or whatnot sitting in a dusty corner, pretty much hidden from view? No one knew the stuff was there, so it sat there unused.
Now how do we solve THAT problem?