Shooting the messenger II

Fantom Planet finds further evidence in support of an emerging meme: Nationalist battles for “ownership” of places on Google Earth.

Last month, Kashmir and Tibet were the subject of dispute. Now, it’s the Sea of Japan, sorry, the East Sea, that is causing a ruckus between Japanese and Korean activists.

The crux of the problem is that there is only one Google Earth — only one digital mirror of the real world onto which all our nationalist persuasions are projected. In the old days of paper maps, everybody could make their own.

Perhaps in the future, place names will just become another layer, with Google offering language localisation that also happens to be politically corrected for the sensibilities of the relevant ethnic groups. It would be a pity, though, to have a Google Earth – Korea Edition and Google Earth – Japan Edition. It’d sort of undermine the whole point of the project.

[Update 2005-08-22: More on the tussle at The Lost Nomad.]

[Update 2005-08-27: James Fee has yet another example, involving Montenegro and Croatia.]

One thought on “Shooting the messenger II”

  1. Google Earth and Disputed Borders and Names

    I’ve briefly mentioned maps’ normative function before: they not only describe reality, but, by assigning names and boundaries, they define it. National mapping agencies make use of maps’ normative function all the time: to pick a relatively non-contro…

Comments are closed.