By 2000 the U.S. Geological Survey expects to complete its national digital cartographic database. This database will include all the information on the agency's maps, and the agency is working with the U.S. Census Bureau to integrate demographic data . Meanwhile Geovision is selling a U.S. atlas on disc for $600; on this disc users can zoom down to a city block. And SilverPlatter is selling a 3-disc set for $2,000; the discs list over 115 million people living in 80 million residences in the U.S. (Early in 1991 a similar set promoted by Lotus and Equifax was withdrawn after a blizzard of protest over privacy issues.)
Imagine an atlas that opens with a rotating globe. (Or an atlas that begins with a rotating human, library, computer, solar system, house, car, scanning tunneling microscope, or nuclear power plant.) You learn about different parts of the globe by touching it. You can then find out about the geography, history, geology, climatology, politics, culture, demographics, or economics of each area. Touching economics might bring up overlays showing trading partners, trade routes, and goods. Touching any trade good, from tractors to camcorders, leads to overlays giving the source of all the raw materials used to make the good.
Touching a portion of the display gives the history of the region, its geological background, its demographics, its transportation system, its climatology, its political allies, its nearness to major fault lines, its chlorofluorocarbon emission rate, its projected development over the next 5 years, its skin cancer rate over the past 10 years and projections for the next 10 assuming various levels of ozone depletion.
Touching another portion lets you extrapolate land use and deforestation over time to examine the effect of tariffs, or the effect of waste heat from cities on fish populations, or the effect of power lines on bird migratory paths, or the effect of global warming on coastlines and industries. Touching yet another portion gives pictures of the region's Nobel prize winners, with their accomplishments and acceptance speeches. Or pictures of the region's politicians. Or a breakdown of the region's gross national product decomposed into budgetary expenditures. Or the effect of solar wind on the region's satellite reconnaissance. Or the region's offshore natural gas deposits. Or the epidemiology of retroviral disease. All portions of the display could be accompanied by movie snippets, stills, and music.