Home > Digital Humanities, GIS miscellany, Uncategorized > Articulating my current preference for Google Earth over ArcGIS (c.2012)

Articulating my current preference for Google Earth over ArcGIS (c.2012)

Contributed  the following post to a Google Earth vs. ESRI discussion on StackExchange, detailing my current preference for Google Earth over ArcGIS, example screenshot at the end.   – Andrew

This isn’t really a response to the initial question about Google Earth Enterprise (which I haven’t used) but more to the series of responses already made. I’m comparing Google Earth (not Maps) to the ArcGIS examples I’ve looked at – maybe ESRI’s ArcGlobe can approximate some or all of Google Earth‘s features.

I identified with Optimize Prime’s initial post. I am still fairly new to GIS but have a graphics background and for a year have been building maps in Google Earth Pro, as well as trying to learn ArcGIS Desktop through online courses and trying out ArcGIS Online. Here’s my 2 cents and feel free to educate/correct me.

Unlike Google Earth (more a globe simulation than a flat map) the ESRI maps I’ve seen use outdated cartographic tropes (heavy language, I know).

Most ESRI maps still have a fixed “North is up” perspective (“tyranny of Mercator” I like to call it), an overhead view with no angular capability (and no close/distant visualization), and seem to be focused more on manipulating the data (back-end processing) rather than publishing it (front-end). I’m more focused on on-screen viewing rather than creating map printouts, though even for printouts these concerns are relevant.
I’m interested in digital history, and it’s nice to be able to view geocoded American Civil War data in Google Earth from above Washington, at an angle facing the American South, with Earth’s curve clearly displayed (or from any other perspective). Can ESRI do this? If so, how?

I’m not sure how relevant ArcGIS’s powerful data-processing features are to the client/end-user. All they see is the published product and to me Google Earth makes things look fabulous and offers valuable changes in perspective. Where necessary, I can do quantitative database processing outside of Google Earth and then import the results as graphic objects. This doesn’t work for everything, but in many cases it works very well.

The below image and icon symbols is derived from a “mini-port ” in which I’ve been tinkering with, of some of the ideas from Visualizing Emancipation, a cool historical geoproject being developed by Scott Nesbit  of the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab.  While I emailed it to Professor Nesbit, this little experiment doesn’t have any seal of approval from the VisEma project’s team and is just a visualization by me.  Also adapted a Seasons-based Legend for the Civil War years (1860-65) that I might write about later, that was fun as well.

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