If you're considering a visit to New York City but you'd really rather be playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Google Earth has a sensible compromise: They've just released ultra-high quality images of New York stretched over a 3-D map so you can swoop through the city like Superman. It's all a bit hallucinatory, as this video shows:
Obviously, you have to download the Google Earth app to experience it. But oddly, the best way to explore the app might be at these huge interactive tables on view to the public at the NYC tourist center in Midtown (fast forward to 1:33):
Google hasn't yet announced whether these high-def maps will be available for other locales, but it all reminds us of Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius, one of the greatest short stories written by Jorge Luis Borges, about a race of people who gets so involved in building a map of the world they forget that the world exists. That race of pasty geeks now lives in Mountain View, California, where massages and free food that make virtual reality far sweeter than meatspace.