New Technology and Wine

I love technology… Every day I read an article that’s completely inspiring and mind expanding that includes some recent advance or development. from giant particle accelerators, to culturing aortas amidst a plethora of events and other things that go on every day.

Google EarthOne of the coolest advances in recent times has been the internet’s contribution to Global Civil Society. For some time I’ve been following Darfur with concern and frustration as one hope for change after another gets dashed against the rocks, it started when Colin Powell defined it all as ‘genocide’ and I thought for sure that Al-Bashir and his cronies were going to get it and would be in the ICC in no time at all. But Nick Kristoff and Eric Reeves continue to write, lobby and campaign, whilst the powers that be (pictured left) manage to ignore plea after plea.

So finally, Elliot Schrage, Google’s Vice-President, in collaboration with the Holocaust Museum have teamed up, and placed the Darfuri genocide on the map, allowing everyone all over the world to see burnt out villages, and know for certain that the harrowing accounts of terror buried in the more informed newspapers op-ed columns are indeed a reality. Schrage says “at Google, we believe can be a catalyst for education and action,” and I’m praying and crossing my fingers that this sort of awareness will shake people into action. Too many politicians have touted ‘not on my watch’ rhetoric whilst by now much so much has been done under their watch that history will view them as complicit.

It’s touching and inspiring to see corporations display humanity, and we can only hope that the world will breed more men like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Elliot Schrage who use their wealth or talent to change the world. Moreover, the world can only benefit from the increased influence of humantiarians like Reeves and Kristoff, and amongst all the chaos, we can at least be thankful that such men exist.

That technology can be applied to draw attention and ambition to resolve such pressing issues is simply remarkable. And in the same but on much lighter note, having been a fan of Google Earth for some time now, I’m blown away by the multiplicity of useful applications. One of my favourite things to do is to go over Manhattan and then click on ‘show restaurants’ and watch how the screen bursts with thousands of little knife and fork logos. If you downloaded Google Earth some time ago and then stopped using it, then go back to the site, because it bursts with functionality. Panoramio allows you to see a collection of shared photos from around the world, kind of like a global scrap book. Placeopedia couples geographical sites with current, historical and media related articles, meshing together time, space and information for the global user. And coolest of cool is Booking.com which allows you to view the location of your hotel from Google Earth and book right there and then. Functions that enable you to see natural wonders like the Grand Canyon or Aires rock in 3D panorama; or the fact that you can see the depth and height of Manhattan skyscrapers make one anticipate the future of technology with optimism.

Tourism and technology pair well, and on Google Earth, Google has Google Earth Showcasecreated a worldwide community of cyber-scrapbookers, videoing and documenting their planet. What better way to promote the environment than to put it on display for the world to see? Already one is able to post their own photographs, and tag it to global landmarks, as well as post videos. The hotel, restaurant and travel industry can reach a global audience; but by the virtue of the proliferation of digital cameras and global friendships, all of a sudden the tourists are becoming a marketing tool. Of course, if there’s anything that will increase customer service in the future it’s the fact that one can post a dissatisfied video and tag it to your hotel or restaurant.

So what’s the implication for consumer goods? Its tough to say, because the fashion industry has many dirty little secrets, and its doubtful that Diesel or Nike want you to see how their goods are produced, because you’d be jettisoned to some Maylasian factory where no tourists go, and it would be a cause for humanitarian concern as opposed to a good advert for the brand. And for all Jack Daniels’ marketing… I’m not really sure how interesting the process of farming barley is, and I seriously doubt that Anheuser-Busch could show us field of hops worth ogling at!

on the other hand is a different story. Suddenly we’re talking snapshots of Burgundy at dawn or videos of harvest time or punch-down macerations in New Zealand, Rioja, Tuscany, Peloponnesian Isles, Macedonia, Russian River, Stellenbosch or Paarl… Moreover, whilst you’re scanning the globe on Google Earth, if you’re interested in a region you could type in say ‘Maremma Toscana‘ and watch a video of it, see some photographs posted by a recent visitor, look at satellite photographs of the vineyards and have a bottle delivered to your door all on the same mechanism.

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