This article is written by Maged N Kamel Boulos, an ESRI software user at the University of Bath. The article is Maged's exploration of online consumer geoinformatics services (the Google Maps API, Google Earth KML, and MSN Virtual Earth) and a discussion of ESRI's response (Maged focuses on the the upgrade of National Geographic MapMachine as ESRI's main response.) From the article:
The planned upgrade aims at bringing satellite imagery, aerial photos, and street-level data to MapMachine users. Users will be able to access the service through a new viewer that is aimed at a mass audience, and appears to be ESRI's direct response to Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth. However, one important difference from those services is that the ArcGIS back end will also allow users of the new service to accomplish much more sophisticated tasks, such as service area analysis. The next generation of MapMachine will also provide a link to GOS data and metadata to help users discover information about their area of interest or study. MapMachine will include capabilities for 3D globe services, allowing GIS users to "pull in" their own map services to overlay onto a globe.
This is a good introduction into a term that is new to me, online consumer geoinformatics services. I will recommend this to GIS students as such.