Google Earth and Postmodernist Cartography

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Today, I read an article that analyzed the role of Google Earth from a postmodern perspective. The article, “Mapping the digital empire: Google Earth and the process of postmodern cartography” by Jason Farman is available on the web. In the abstract, the author notes:

“I demonstrate how Google Earth, by incorporating a social network that engages users
as embodied interactors rather than disembodied voyeurs, is able to present usergenerated
content and dialog spatially on the very object that such content critiques”.

In designing a recent web mapping application, we published several maps, but also published the data on which the maps were based with the idea that if people wanted to present their own view of reality on the topic, then they were welcome to do by downloading, analyzing and mapping the data. In the above cited article, Farman is arguing that Google Earth inculcated post-modernist perspective by allowing users to post their own reality against Google Earth’s master representation. This is similar to what transpires nowadays in the electronic media, where journalists present a story and readers are invited to comment on the story, thereby providing their own take on reality right alongside the newspaper’s master representation of the issue.


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