Don't even bother reading the post below. Just go right over to Derek Watkins' D3 globe.
Some time ago we made a fakaroo spinning globe as a slave graphic for a user's choice of global region on the landing page of a client's portal. It was surprisingly convincing and we posted a quick tutorial on how to fake a good-enough 3D rotation effect in 2D, with Silverlight. Some folks have found it useful and I'll get the occasional request for the source or at least the assets (I've added DropBox links to them below the infographic down there).
Here's an infographic covering that same concept from an HTML5 perspective, which isn't all that different, along with links to the image assets. As is the case with HTML, there are always five different ways to do the same thing. This graphic illustrates the concepts and the steps. You may or may not find it helpful, but I hope you at least find it interesting and if you try it out I really hope you post a link and/or tweet about it (#HTML5Globe).
Here's an old tutorial made in Silverlight. The concepts are analogous in HTML.
Here are the image assets that you can help yourself to, as a time saver. Three out of four of these are semi-transparent and white, so don't think they're empty when you can't initially see them...
- Spherical Background Image
- Spherical Foreground Image
- Back-of-the-Globe Map Image
- Front-of-the-Globe Map Image