Wednesday, October 7, 2009

SketchUp Island Adventures #6: Alex Juhola Ostler

Autumn: a crucial time for pumpkin hunting on SketchUp Island. Our survival instinct takes over. We know the pumpkins must sustain us... If we can manage to catch any.

You see, the pumpkins are tricky fellows on SketchUp Island. They slip away easily, roll under bushes and vanish. Some, when cornered, gnash their teeth and snarl. One needs stealth and focus to snare a pumpkin. And any SketchUp Islander knows that a true hunter of pumpkins must hunt by the light of the harvest moon.

It was under these circumstances, on a cold, crisp night beneath the stars and moon, in near silence, that I bumped into a fellow pumpkin hunter who was crawling through the SketchUp Island pumpkin patch on hands and knees, spear in hand. Crickets chirped and we conducted our interview in hushed tones...

Hello, Fellow Islander, who are you and what do you do when not hunting pumpkins?

I am Alex(andra) Juhola Ostler. As a 3D Data Specialist [at Google] I manage and create the 3D data in the 3D Buildings layers. This role includes coordinating and processing data from our various sources, modeling for special projects and supporting the world's modelers through hands-on communication and by bettering our documentation.

Assuming our hunt is successful and we all survive the winter and get rescued from the Island, how do you imagine geo-modeling will have impacted the world in the time we were gone? What will the future look like?

I imagine a completely immersive experience in Google Earth and Google Maps. It starts several hundred meters up: take in the overall organization of an area through the aerial imagery and roads overlay, zoom in, you understand the 3D spatial relationship through the 3D buildings layer, zoom in further and you get a street view perspective communicating the intricate details of a building or street scape. In enhancing that immersive experience, the 3D Buildings layer is allowing people to understand their world all from their home computer.

Oh! Alex! Quick! I think I see a pumpkin caught unawares just ahead and to the right! I'll head it off while you approach from behind! In the meantime please ask yourself a question and answer it!

"What is the greatest challenge in managing 3D content for Google Earth?" Resolving the debate between quantity and quality. There is a fine balance in opening the 3D world to modelers of all experience levels, maximizing our coverage and maintaining a high level of quality. We are still tweaking our standards and always appreciate feedback from the modeling community!

I'm back-- it wasn't a sleeping pumpkin, just a deflated basketball. Hey, Alex, check out the moon up there, what do you think? We might catch one of these pumpkins before the night is over, you think? It's hard work, but a fine autumn night and a harvest moon for a pumpkin hunt isn't it?

Autumn is hands down my favorite season... there are few better indicators of Autumn than a full, glowing Harvest Moon!

Alex will be one of the judges this October in the SketchUp Island Pumpkin Carving Contest. Have Alex check out your work by entering the contest (by October 24) HERE. Thanks, Alex for taking the time to chat and... See you around the Island!