Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Google Earth Adds New Layers

Google earth, according to OogleEarth has just added some new layers, one in particular of which highlights what is going on in Dharfur, and ties it to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which tracks deaths, attacks, and refugees in the Dharfur region.
Many thanks to my source at GoogleEarth and greetings, Earthling! (I love saying that!)

Mediawatch: Covering the new Darfur default layer in Google Earth
Wednesday, April 11, 2007 (10:38 UTC)
Hundreds of media organizations carried news about the new Darfur layers in Google Earth — and that’s just in English. In Sweden alone, over 40 papers ran the news (an example). In the US, many local news organizations and papers ran the AP or Reuters story. Here’s a rundown of links to some of the larger and/or more interesting ones, with some observations at the end:

Using their own correspondents: The Los Angeles Times (business), BBC (front page feature), CNET (front page, and as a top headline for media 2.0), CNN (technology), Washington Times (business), PC World, ABC News (world news) and a good article/blog in Wired.

Reuters: Australia’s The Age (under technology), New Zealand Herald (world news), The Australian (world news) and Scientific American (science news).

AP: Seattle Post Intelligencer (business), MSNBC (technology), The Guardian (world news), Sydney Morning Herald (technology), the Houston Chronicle (markets), Seattle Times (world news), CBS News (technology), Baltimore Sun (world news), Washington Post (technology), San Jose Mercury News (breaking news), San Francisco Chronicle (business), Denver Post (world news), International Herald Tribune (Americas??) and the Sudan Tribune (which is a great resource for Darfur news, it turns out — pity they don’t have RSS).

AFP: Times of India (world news), iAfrica (technology) and Baku Today (technology).

IDG News service: IT World and InfoWorld.

What’s interesting is that there is no consensus among news editors as to where such a story belongs: Is the story’s most important news component the fact that there is a genocide being perpetrated in Darfur (world news), that new technologies are being employed to educate people about Darfur (technology), or that Google is involved (business)? In a sense, the situation in Darfur is not itself a “news” story, in that we all already (should) know what’s going on there. (If anything, the news is that it’s getting worse at the moment, and people I know who work there are doing so without much hope of a resolution anytime soon.) But putting the story in the technology section relegates it to a spot not followed by the people that the technology is most aiming to reach.

I think this is above all a story about how new technology is letting us all be witnesses to a genocide in progress, and how that raises our own responsibilities — so perhaps this is a story best also told in the glossy Sunday newspaper magazines, read when people have more time to play with Google Earth and where there is more room for long-form stories about larger technology trends coupled to humanitarian crises such as Darfur, but also Katrina/New Orleans and the Pakistan quake from 2005. How about it, New York Times?

My opinion: This has got to be one of the greatest blogs on earth. And he emphasis added in the above paragraph is mine.

April 11, 2007 - Posted by | Africa, Blogging, Communication, Community, Crime, Cross Cultural, Dharfur, Geography / Maps, GoogleEarth, Living Conditions, Oman, Political Issues, Social Issues, Sudan, Technical Issue


  1. Your emphasis of his words is spot on. What keeps me up at night is the lack of interest by the general population for Darfur (and beyond) despite the increased information accessible through advanced technology (Yay Earthling!). Do you find it as discouraging as I do that innane issues are more interesting, more sexy, as evidenced by above-the-fold headlines that continue to revolve around the paternity of a dead celebrity’s child, an ex-techie’s $25 million vacation in space, and the hullabaloo over ignorant comments by irrelevant talk show hosts? The truly significant items get relegated to inner pages and specialized sections. Augh.

    Comment by sparkleplenty | April 12, 2007 | Reply

  2. I agree, Sparkle. I just watched Blood Diamond, and it makes me heart sick. And I don’t know what the solution is. I know we have a lot of African refugees in Seattle, and they are excellent citizens, great Americans. But how can we help Dharfur, how can we help them in a long-term, lasting way so that they can live in peace in their own country?

    But yes, Imus gets the front page and Dharfur is listed almost incidentally, under technology. God bless those people with conscience at GoogleEarth who are paying attention, and bring it to our attention.

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 14, 2007 | Reply

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