I was impressed by Microsoft's Deep Zoom Composer tool, which I saw demonstrated at the Naace conference 2009. Deep Zoom Composer lets you explore hi-res photos in a very innovative way, letting you get in closer and closer, or back away further and further.
You can see what I mean by looking at the demonstration shown on a video created by Ollie Bray.
The question remains: is this a solution looking for a problem? Probably. But I can see how this might be used in an interesting, and perhaps unintended, way.
First, though, watch the video:
Pretty cool, right? Now, it seems to me that where the thrill factor comes in as that at each stage of the process you think you have the full picture, and then discover that you were only seeing a small part of a much bigger picture. In a sense, this is an alternative way of depicting what the TV advertisements for the Guardian newspaper in Britain showed a couple of years ago:
Getting back to Deep Zoom, you could use it as a metaphor in citizenship, media or politics courses. You could also use it in science, geography or history. Basically, you could use it in any situation where you wanted the students to understand that everything that happens, happens in a particular context, and that sometimes you have to go quite a distance away, or quite a few years back in time, to really get an idea of just what that context might be.