Google Maps and Google Earth seem to have created the latest and greatest innovation in internet technology. I would venture to guess that in the same way that Microsoft Word and the World Wide Web brought the word processing and publication-style documents to the masses, Google Earth could bring GIS and maps to the masses. Check out this article in the NY Times on how Google’s brilliant move to open-source its mapping API (it’s DOS all over again) has spawned this crazy, innovative, and potentially even revolutionary frontier for technology.
And people care about this stuff, too – the Foreign Ministry of Taiwan complained officially to Google about how it was labeled. That was international news!
GIS has exploded in academia in recent years. I bet it’s not too long before Google Earth technology is loaded on every computer and is as integral as Microsoft Office or Adobe Reader.