Monday, November 8, 2010

Google Maps

After last week's discussion on Google taking the go-ahead with maps and deciding on its own borders (at times disputed by the states themselves) I thought that this article would be a good addition to the dialogue. I find it interesting that Google uses the State Department's information to draw its borders. And I find it interesting not because it follows America, but because it follows any one country's stance on national boundaries. Though, I do suppose that it has to base its information off somewhere, and one data-set is probably easier than picking and choosing--and thus setting their own agenda.


  1. I think the fact that Google executives are closely linked with the American government may have a lot to do with the sourcing. Though it does make one wonder why if that close-nit ties has anything to do with the way borders are portrayed. Obviously, the American government sees area of dispute not in terms of who is claiming what but on strategic alliances and geographical association. I'm sure this view point is almost always controversial.

    Along with the fact of close-nit ties, I'm sure that Google has more strategic reasons for siding with the U.S. based satellite system and that is that the U.S. government will make less demands for Google to change or make sites blurry. Also when other countries come to show their disappointment or dislike of the program, Google Earth, they are not faced with just a reluctant Google but a nation-state famous for its ignorance of its multinationals doings.

    Thus, it probably a favorable atmosphere for Google to side with the American source and avoid having to hassle too much with the political backlash of other countries.

  2. Google probably used State Department data in this case because the area is in dispute, and as an American business, it does make sense for the company to take U.S. positions on borders.

    Interestingly, there are different versions of Google Earth in different countries. The border between China and India, for example, is represented differently to comply with state law in those countries. The U.S. version shows both boundaries represented by a dotted line.

    Here is an earlier article on the Nicaragua/Costa Rica dispute:

    This article goes more in depth about the dispute and also gives a few other recent examples of Google Earth controversy.