We can think of two straightforward tourist-friendly uses for Google Earth: (1) using the mapping features to scope out landmarks before leaving the hotel in the morning and (2) using the community-tagged layers to find restaurants and clubs before leaving the hotel for the evening. And as these platforms move to mobile technologies, "before leaving the hotel" will increasingly become "while randomly walking around."
Tourists won't have to plan where they're going because their cell phones will tell them when they've gotten there.
Instead of the dystopian scenario, where Google Earth causes people to "travel virtually" through their desktop, we'll get the opposite: tourists traveling all over the world and wandering around their destination cities confidently, getting directed to all manner of shiny and interesting things.
What about you? Have Google's mapping technologies changed the way you travel? Tell us in comments below.
· Google Earth coverage [Jaunted]