The holocaust museum has initiated in collaboration with Google Earth a project which marks destroyed villages in Sudan on the map of Google Earth. It proves that a powerful tool such as this one can easily be applied for political ends.
For sure, in this case it supports the good cause: publishing atrocities that would otherwise remain uncovered. In the global village, nothing can be kept from our attention and that’s exactly where the road gets slippery. An Orwellian situation unfolds in my imagination and I see governments controlling people by means of Google Earth. Perhaps a grotesque fantasy, but yes, why not…
Another pitfall is the so-called ‘objectiveness’ of this information. I remember well the incident with MSN Virtual Earth in which they erased the Apple Computers headquarters. A cunning joke of course, however, on the other hand it shows how easy objective information can be manipulated into other, also seemingly objective information. Not to be underestimated, since Google’s prime ambition is too index and publish all information in the world. If accomplished, that would make Google the self-elected, totalitarian emperor reigning over the digital world.
Unless, tools such as Virtual Earth and Google Earth become open sourced in the same way as Wikipedia is. Resembling open elections, that would allow all of us world-wide-web-inhabitants to discuss over what we read.
In other words: Power to the people!