Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Google D'Earth of Contributions

The conflict of “the real” and “the truth” in Google Earth’s Darfur coverage intrigues me. How does the medium of a faceless internet promote the possible integrity of images? How does voyeurism (implicitly implied to be immoral to obtain) produce “real” results?

“Both the ‘truth’ status of satellite images and of other visual materials presented in Google Earth need to be evaluated and contextualized more carefully rather than simply adopted as ‘the real.’” (Parks, 5)

Why do we give images the power to remain “uncontextualized”? Is it the “personal” aspect of the computer transferred to our own experience? Do we “personify” what is delivered via non-personal means? The Google Earth app lets viewers “experience” the conflict by placing images before them. Thus, the viewer feels a form of oppression (“How could something this terrible happen? Why do I feel so bad?”). Unfortunately, there is no impetus to contribute to change. The emotional experience/transition fails to compel advocacy. “Seeing is believing” is not “doing”.

-Nick White

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