Did Google start a war?
In November of 2010, Nicaraguan officials started a construction project on a piece of land that was culturally accepted to belong to Costa Rica. Officials from Nicaragua justified this move through the use of Google Maps- which claimed that the land belonged to Nicaragua. The ownership of this area, which only spans a few square miles, has been disputed for hundreds of years (For more information, look up the Cañas-Jerez Treaty of 1858 and the arbitration of the dispute by President Grover Cleveland in 1888).The countries and Google debated the correct border for a few days; in the meantime, Nicaraguan troops occupied the space. While Google didn’t start a war, it played a role in perpetuating tensions between the two countries.
In our age of information, there is a demand for access to information. As Google has increased in popularity and become the “go to” source for information of all sorts, what authority does the organization have? The purpose of maps is to give the user a clear idea about a location: names, landscape, boundaries. Many of these items that are displayed on maps are conflicted and complex zones that cannot be easily defined. Google Map’s mission is, “to represent the ‘ground truth’ as accurately and neutrally.” In some ways, Google wants to present information to allow users to make their own decision, “That can mean providing multiple claim lines (e.g. the Syrian and Israeli lines in the Golan Heights), multiple names (e.g. two names separated by a slash: ‘Londonderry/Derry’), or clickable political annotations with short descriptions of the issues,” (For more information, check out this statement from Google’s Charlie Hales).
Side Note: The tech quiz classified me as a “Digital Collaborator”If you are a Digital Collaborator, you use information technology to work with and share your creations with others. You are enthusiastic about how ICTs help you connect with others and confident in your ability to manage digital devices and information. For you, the digital commons can be a camp, a lab, or a theater group – places to gather with others to develop something new.