March 18th, 2011

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What will Google do?

This was pondered on Facebook after I posted that I had realized that some of the destroyed coastal towns in northeast Japan had been extensively covered a couple years ago by Street View on Google Maps -- every street and alley can be "walked" down.

Now that these towns have been obliterated, what will Google do with all these images? I have in the past wondered if Google would someday simply replace old images with "updates". But this is something different. These Street View images now are very much an historical record of what used to be -- before it was all washed away.

While the town of Kesennuma only has its main road in Street View, I noticed that, at the point where a popular video of the tsunami was taken, you can see schoolgirls walking along the street. It made me wonder. We've heard so much from survivors that they had to abandon their elderly relatives or coworkers to escape the tsunami -- but what of the kids in those schools at the coast? No school buses, no time for them to walk home after the earthquake... Was an entire generation of school children lost? I've certainly seen a boat full of elementary kids who had been rescued, and a blanketed corpse of a child. So I'm thinking the schools just had the kids move to the top floor, which obviously wasn't enough in many cases. Yet, I haven't heard anything about it. I guess it's literally a morbid curiosity.