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Michael F.Goodchild (Center for Spatial Studies and Department of Geography,University of California,Santa Barbara,CA 93106-4060,USA)  
Discrete global grids provide a means of rasterizing the curved surface of the Earth.They form the basic data models for digital globes,and thus enable the vision of Digital Earth.The author reviews the history of discrete global grids and Digital Earth,and the first generation of implementations,exemplified by Google Earth.Digital Earth challenges us to provide effective communication of information about the surface and near-surface of the Earth to the scientific community and the general public,but the first generation falls short of this vision in several respects,most notably the lack of an ability to simulate future states based on models of social and environmental processes.A summary is presented of previous work on a vision for the next generation of Digital Earth.
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