An intellectual freedom blog with an emphasis on libraries and technology

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Airbrushing history

Enemies of reality

What is Google [or its management] thinking? A recent AP story points out that "Google Earth" maps used to show satellite images of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina now show pre-Katrina New Orleans. What's up with that? Does Google hope to curry favor with the Bush Administration for some reason? I write that as a joke, but now I wonder. What could Google possibly hope to accomplish with this?

The House Committee on Science and Technology's subcommittee on investigations and oversight asked Google's CEO some pointed questions about this. I especially like the subcommittee's chairman's comment when he accused Google of "airbrushing history."

Down the memory hole

There exists some precedence for this sort of concealment of reality. In the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Panama the photographic services destroyed all the pictures of the devastation of Panama City and other parts of that Country, including the tent cities that sprang up in the wake of the U.S. military's destruction of poor people's homes. Without having to "store" loads of print photographs or negatives, those who, for whatever reason, wish to cover up the images of reality need a better excuse than whatever Google cooks up. Storage space for bits and bytes has never been cheaper.

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