Alternate Realities: Google Maps and NOLA

If I was a Katrina victim in New Orleans, I would be insulted by Google replacing its Maps views with pre-Katrina images — as if nothing ever happened there. But I think that I would have more critical issues to worry about.

North Carolina Congressman Brad Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology’s subcommittee on investigations and oversight, wrote a letter to the Google CEO, saying that “Google’s use of old imagery appears to be doing the victims of Hurricane Katrina a great injustice by airbrushing history.”

I don’t believe that Google’s “airbrushing” was malicious, but as a mistake, it was indeed a great injustice to the victims. This incident is just symptomatic of how this country has mostly forgotten about Katrina’s victims. But not everyone, thankfully.

John Hanke’s explanation of the mistake relied on a technical explanation for why the pre-Katrina images were used. “[w]e were a bit surprised by some of these recent comments,” he writes and “it looks like this April Fool’s joke was on us.” Not the way I would have advised him to word the blog post if I was Google PR. John doesn’t seem to understand why Rep. Miller had an issue with the image replacement.

“Entire neighborhoods are now slab mosaics where houses once stood and shopping malls, churches and marinas are empty of life, many gone altogether,” reported the AP article.

And that’s the post-Katrina reality.

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