Google Zooming in on Inaction in Darfur

While the current administration sends another stern message on Darfur, Google and The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have worked together to launch a new set of features in Google Earth that will show us the extent of the crisis.

Presumably, for those who need to see to believe, Google's latest innovation might help to generate a broader outcry, and just maybe, stimulate some action. Google will be using icons of tents and fires to show refugee camps and destroyed villages. Clicking on the icons will give you even more information: the name of the village and statistics on the extent of the destruction. The Holocaust Museum will be providing links to content including photos, videos and historical background to lend further context to the situation.

It's worth noting, though, that the effort doesn't have a direct philanthropic goal (they're not raising money and they're not directing resources to the problem). Rather these two organizations seek to get us off our collective laurels by providing transparency and immediateness to a situation, like so many, that's easy to ignore because it's far away. I also think that this creative way of packaging "data" is ultra-signficant. As we struggle to find effective ways of bringing accountability data into philanthropic decision making, we really have to challenge the idea that "data speaks for itself". It might speak, but it doesn't convince.

Nancy DeFauw

Posted at 6:08 AM, Apr 13, 2007 in Accountability | Cross-Sectoral Strategies | Peace and Justice | Technology | Permalink | Comment