Essay published online – Questioning Springtime Everywhere


Stu Sontier at Aotearoa Digital Arts symposium 2024

Here’s a link to a super-long essay that my ADA symposium talk was based on. It discusses the visual presentation within Google Earth, noting that it trades on an assumed veracity that is generally felt with aerial and satellite imagery. Yet the imagery in Google Earth is complex and algorithmically manipulated. It looks at the platform through the lens of neo-colonialism and draws attention to the originating “don’t be evil” motto. Some examples show the complexities of evidence around aerial and satellite images online and how Google indulges in some old-school naivety in its quest to better the world. The essay also weighs up those claims against the air of an Effective Altruism mindset. Finally it considers contracts that Google has with both the US and Israeli militaries, noting that it’s own employees protest against the use of their work that may be furthering illegal settlements, and contributing to the furtherment of machine learning used in weaponry.

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