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A New Google Sneeze: Google Sky

Published: March 28, 2008

Author: David Rodnitzky

It would be easy to write an entire blog focused on the press’ slobbering over every new Google press release, but I try to limit myself to a few of these stories a year, which I have named “Google Sneezes” (the point being that someone at Google could sneeze and a reporter would want to write about it).
The latest Google sneeze is Google Sky, basically Google Earth but for outer space. Google Sky seems pretty worthless to me – astronomers have far more sophisticated tools and the average joe doesn’t much care to explore thousands of obscure stars and galaxies. That basically makes the addressable market for this product high school science classes and suckers who “named a star” for a loved one.
What’s next for the brains at Google – Google Bird, Google Cubist Art, and Google Periodic Table? Whatever fascinating “20% free time” project is released, no doubt the press will lap it up. My sense, however, is that even the lapdog tech press was pretty bored by this release. Still, they had to write about it – missing a Google product release – no matter how lame – could cost you your tech journalist street cred!
So here’s some of the amusing attempts at trying to make this lame product newsworthy:
Steven Levy in Newsweek, talking about Google and Microsoft’s astronomy releases: “Both efforts offer a means to embark on celestial explorations that skillfully integrate astounding images from telescopes that capture galaxies, star systems and even evidence of black holes from thousands of light-years away, including three of the most celebrated satellite-based probes: Hubble, the Chandra X-ray and the Spitzer Infrared (no hooker jokes, please).”
PC World spent a few pages on Google Sky and concluded: “Errors aside, Google Sky is a terrific way to kill some time and learn about the vast universe.”
The Register writes: “if you’d rather be sucked screaming into a black hole than download an application from the world’s fave search monolith, then this alternative offers hours of fun for all the family. Happy intergalactic surfing.”
TechCrunch noted: “I couldn’t immediately figure out how to zoom in and out. But I’m no rocket scientist. The best part about it is you can search the galaxy by typing astronomy terms into the search box.”
And finally, the Dallas Morning News concluded: “This doesn’t look as cool as the WorldWide Telescope site that Microsoft plans to launch in the very near future, but it should be enough to tide over astronomy buffs.”
Ha…ha…ha… choo! You’re excused, Google.

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