Revolutionary or Radical

Satellites have been used as a strategic power tool for nation-states, but with the implementation of Google Earth, satellite imagery has been democratized allowing the public to use satellite imagery themselves. This has caused great implications, especially for nation-states as noted by Sangeet Kumar in the article Google Earth and the nation state: Sovereignty in the age of new media. The launched software Google Earth, allows any member of the global public, to zoom in on classified locations. Kumar explains the significance of Google Earth and the challenges that it brings to nation states. Kumar notes that new media like Google Earth characterize a new modality of power that is causing issues for the national state system.

There are major political implications to Google Earth.  Google states that Google Earth is a mechanism for public goods, but it also mast material interests. There have always been issues with how one maps the world, and problems will always arise anytime new maps come out. Nations also have different levels of agency to combat these non-state actors and some nations have more options to combat issues that may arise like Google Earth.

Yet, nation states are not the only ones that are speaking up against Google Earth. Citizens have also gone through their own mechanism to try and combat certain Google Earth decisions. For example, citizens have created their own facebook groups against Google Earths boundary mapping like the group  “ Tell Google Earth Jerusalem is Not the Capital of Israel.” (

Yet, there are also citizens who are ecstatic about Google Earth. For example one should mention that Google Earth can be a tool to monitor environmental changes and keep nations accountable for their actions. Google Earth allows activists, scientists and the general public, to form compelling cases to reach the public about environmental degradation.

I remember the first time I used Google Earth. I was in awe that anyone could type in my home address and see my house (and my neighbor walking her dog). I must be honest, I thought it was cool and revolutionary but I also was a little scared and nervous how easy it was for anyone to look up a specific location.  I think Google Earth is groundbreaking but it is also a little radical. Even though Google is not a nation-state it has an increasing political power. How they map something has great influence on how others see the world and they must be careful not to spur any more conflicts without their willing to take the consequences.


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2 Responses to Revolutionary or Radical

  1. Faizullah Jan says:

    Google Earth has many implications for the nation-states, but it also offers many opportunities for the global civil society. We can say that Google Earth is “His Master’s Eye” with the exception that anyone with access to the computer can use it to have a look on the earth. While using Google Earth, to me the world looks like Marshal McLuhan’s global village. I do not feel far away from my tiny village in Pakistan. Whenever, I miss my village, I go to the Google Earth, walk through every street and pass by every crop field of my village and then have a close look at my parents’ house. The only thing that is missing in the view is walking humans.
    Another good thing about Google Earth is that the earth looks as a single unit, with no political divisions.

  2. qiongxie says:

    I agree with you! Today I am browsing our textbook and look at the chronology: It is so amazing how our society has been advanced by the information and communication technologies: the first telecommunications satellites was launched in 1960 by NASA. But right now even citizens can use Google Earth to track information around the world. It seems that the globalization of information technologies have passed the globalization of politics. So the nation states really need to think through their positions such as how to defend their national security. Even in some countries which are the monopoly state broadcasting authorities, they cannot 100% take control of information flow due to the transnational information networks, especially for Internet. I cannot predict what will happen in the next one or two generations, but maybe the cosmopolitan thinking will become the alternative choice for nationalism, as people become more tolerate and open to the ICTs.

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