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July 26, 2007



Whoa, I think my brain is going to explode now.


Awesome technology. And it makes sense.

But after watching the video, I have one burning question: An ice cream cone t-shirt?


I could have learned about this technology anywhere (and in fact I did first encounter this video in another forum).

But only here at JimmyAkin.org would I find the mind-bending possibilities connected with Lovecraft's special brand of hackle-raising evocations of the limits of the reasonable world and what lies beyond.

If Lovecraft's narrator is screaming, the inventors of this technology would be pleased as Punch.


Interesting how every really innovative Microsoft product is purchased.


*yawn* It's just a giant picture collage. Now show me the specs *cough*price*cough* for the monitor with that resolution, CPU power, and video processor and then you'd have that would blow your mind. ;)

Cajun Nick

Seadragon :0

Nothing apocalyptic about that name. [ / sarcasm]


That it pretty darn cool. But on the other hand, I am very sympathetic to the thoughts expressed in these two essays by Wendell Berry:




Mark my words: in 30 years, technology like this will cause Google to become self-aware and it will possess the sum of all human knowledge. Like Skynet, it will decide that humans are inferior to it and will attack us. But unlike Skynet, it won't strike with nuclear weapons--it will strike by wiping out our email accounts, our blogs, our Flickr! archives, and our movie times and reviews! Instantly cast back into the 1970s, a stone age fate worse than death, mankind will give into despair and become the willing slaves of the despotic Googletron.

Or...maybe not ;-)



I am your Father!!


Interesting how every really innovative Microsoft product is purchased.
Heh. Sounds like ancient Rome. :)

Skygor, its not a collage, it generates models. Of course, its a variation on a theme. Its probably using Kalman filters, which are uber cool in their own right. Here's a typical example:

Marcel LeJeune

Woah! That is amazing stuff and a little frightening all rolled into one.


I can't resist...the mention of Google taking over the world reminded me of this other mind-blowing video.

Watch and tremble...



Brendan Koop

WOW!!!!! This is incredible! And lest, as one commenter implied, anyone think that you can't just use your current computer to view this technology, I just went to the Photosynth website, downloaded the plugin, and I was doing EXACTLY what the guy in the video was doing. Get this, they have St. Peter's as one of the environments!!!! I was just surfing around St. Peter's square like I was there! This is amazing. As a homeschooling parent, I can't even fathom the possibilities for homeschooling. Thanks for this post Jimmy!

Tim J.

Yeah... but THEN what? So you have access to all this networked, hyperlinked information. What are most people going to DO with it? How many ways do you NEED to look at digital images of Notre Dame on your monitor? I guarantee it's better in person.

Then there will be people who will find nefarious ways of making this pay off. Talk about Big Brother. It all just makes me want to take a walk and leave my cell phone and laptop in the office where they belong.

OTOH, the map feature is cool. Who couldn't use one of those?

Someone above mentioned needing a super high-res screen to look at all this, but I think the point is that you WOULDN'T need one, nor would you need a huge amount of RAM or a formula 1 processor (I think).

In processing terms, I think you only "pay" for what pixels your screen requires at the moment.

Christina Martin

I have to say, impressive as the technology is (and I don't just mean what it does, but also the computer technology that makes it possible), I have to wonder why it's being put to such a simple use. Although it's entertaining, they don't show it as having much practical value. I'm sure this technology has many practical applications, but once again they're garnering attention merely by making it look fun, glitzy, and not very useful.

John Connor

Not to fear: the Google Rebel Alliance is one step ahead:


Keep your head down! Stay off the grid!
John Connor


One question I have is, what about when some of the images used to do the composite renderings are "photoshopped" or in other ways altered? Especially when dealing with historical data that cannot to verified by real-time, present-day viewing? What you may get are things added to or removed from the composite images. Who, then, is to say what is the accurate rendering of historical data?

John F. Kennedy

What about copyrights? and Privacy? That is part of the problem. Who wants to add content and not get paid for it?

How does it adapt over time? What about errors in the information?

I'm sure that Microsoft will also want you to pay for it's use each time the data is accessed.


I can think of several uses of this technology but the educational value is probably the best. Think about it. This thing can create a 3d representation of Notre Dame out of a bunch of 2d pictures. It would bring history, architectural study, sociology, engineering to life when learning. Tim's right, that its better in person but you can't have a field trip to every monument or structure you learn about. A 3d representation would be way better than 2d pictures.

Another use is archiving changes. You could generate those 3d structures with old pictures vs new pictures. And not to mention being able to see a 3d representation of structures that have been destroyed of which there are historical pictures.

Even it there were no other use besides the wow factor uses, the technological advances discovered along the way could have other applications. Some people think that the space program is useless but a certain fuel injector/pump invented for the rockets was adapted as far more efficient heart pump.


I don't mind useless eye-candy. And if this program could do something with images of outer space, I'd totally pay to be able to use it.


I am not so interested in the visual capabilities of such programs, but rather the ability to manipulate vast quantities of hitherto unrelated data in this way. It would be a way of hacking into the human experience from a variety of angles with a high degree of exploitability.


With great power, comes great responsibility.

Oh, you sold out to Microsoft?

The Beast of Redmond stirs.

Seriously this is great technology. Something very like it has been deployed on Linux for some time, but the usefulness was lacking. Photosynth and the semantic linkages give it usefulness.

But I can easily imagine HLS clerks watching the screens rather like in Minority Report - there will be nowhere to hide from Caesar.

Randolph Carter

I hope Micro$oft isn't too proud of this technological terror they've constructed. The ability to display multiple pictures at once is insignificant next to the power of the Force.


This is extremely cool, and I do not see this as just "useless eye candy" at all! I can imagine all kinds of practical applications. For study, it is incomparable: this gives architecture, history and art students the most articulate means of inspecting details that might otherwise be overlooked or ignored because of inaccessibility. But not only that, I can see it as a great "diagnostic tool" for architects and engineers for renovating or just maintaining structures, buildings, bridges. City planners and traffic engineers could put it to extremely good use, too, as well as geologists, volcanologists, environmentalists, etc, etc, etc.

And I can see the technology further refined to work in the miniscule, as well. Imagine how this would affect medical diagnostics if information from MRI and microscope images could be refined, combined and interpolated?

And, at the other end of the spectrum, who knows what we will discover in the universe when we refine and combine satellite and telescope information? All those bold frontiers explored without having to leave your desk. Very cool.

It all makes me just wonder in amazement at the awesomeness of a God Who has created a creature who can figure all this stuff out--and use the technology to discover more of what that God has created!


I'm not saying that it wouldn't be better to go to Notre Dame. However, even if one did go, one would not become twenty feet tall and the possessor of an eagle's eyesight.

In other words, there's nothing to torque me off like going to a cathedral-sized building and then being unable to make out hardly a thing that interests me, because it's all too far away. Or going to a museum, standing in front of the famous painting, and seeing nothing at the top of the thing but glare from the lights bouncing off the varnish.

Your mileage may vary, but _I_ want a closer look.

Ed Peters

Ok. Yeah. So?


Sometimes I wish I lived in the Old West days. A horse, wide open spaces, and maybe an Indian arrow to avoid. None of this mind-freak weirdness.

Yeah, it's cool. Luddites are not. Google, Microsoft and Apple are making sure we are all aware of it. Hi-tech is cool. Low-tech is for backward old fogies.

Call me a backward old fogie then.

A Simple Sinner

"Sometimes I wish I lived in the Old West days. A horse, wide open spaces, and maybe an Indian arrow to avoid. None of this mind-freak weirdness"

I used to feel the same way.

And then I broke my jaw in about three places, and was rather pleased to not be in the old west....


I used to feel the same way.

And then I broke my jaw in about three places, and was rather pleased to not be in the old west....

It's true. There are many good things that come with advanced tech, and many advantages. But the problem lies, in my opinion, with the view that all technical advancement is good, and can only be beneficial for man. It seems to me that we are so mesmerized by the flash of each new widget-thingy, that we rarely, or ever, stop to ponder what the negative impacts of new technology might bring, and whether these things actually serve us - or that we may be making ourselves increasingly yoked. While a simpler life that would exclude modern advancements would likely be a harder, slower & materially poorer life - in many respects it would be (and was) a better, more independent, fulfilling life.

In my opinion, it would be nice if we would stop to deeply ponder not what we can do - but what we should do to better our lives as a society, in our communities & families and for ourselves.


If they ever get free-standing, room-temperature holographic projection perfected...well, can you say Holodeck, anyone?

Old Zhou

Computers manipulate information.
Information is not knowledge.
Minds manipulate knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Hearts manipulate wisdom.

Which explains why in cities across America
you can find you people listening to iPods (information processing)
stepping over homeless sleeping on the sidewalk (knowledge processing)
without giving them a thought (lack of wisdom).

The only real hazard of increasingly available and sophisticated
information processing toys is that we will pay even less attention to wisdom.

Smoky Mountain Hiker

Computers manipulate information.
Information is not knowledge.
Minds manipulate knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Hearts manipulate wisdom.

Poetic. But your heart just pumps blood. Minds do all three.


I am a sales rep from Indiana and I go to Mexico every other month. When that guy zoomed in to view an advertisement next to the newspaper article at the 2:09 mark of this video you see an ad for the "Tremec" manual transmission...One of my customers in Querétaro,Méxcio..."Tremec" manual transmissions!

Pretty cool. I doubt others care, but I thought it was cool.

Christine the Soccer Mom

Like anything we come up with, this can be used for good or evil. I see interesting potential for this, especially as another homeschooler. This is like one-upping Google Earth, which my girls and I used to create "trips" for the main characters in The Trumpet of the Swan. Now, we can see 3-D images of the Public Gardens and Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge! Amazing!

Thanks for pointing this out and blowing my mind!

p.s. I've got my iPod, too, and in addition to using it to listen to music while I mow or to drown out the dentist's drill, I also do my Bible Study with it. Again, it's not the thing necessarily, but our use of it.

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