Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Technology for Good

There are innumerable examples of technology being used to serve the planet and those who live on it, just as there are many cases of the opposite. In this case, I want to highlight the use of a free program to draw attention to injustices taking place half a world from here. Google Earth takes their ever-popular and useful map technology and expands it to include a navigable globe where information can be highlighted as you see fit. Well, in conjunction with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Google Earth is providing high resolution images as well as stories from the Darfur region of Sudan. For a background on the Darfur conflict, click here.

If you use Google Earth, start the program and search for "Sudan". It should show some icons and by clicking on them, will allow you to download more extensive information. It highlights villages, both damaged and destroyed, as well as refugee and internally displaced person's camps. Along with some of this are photos and videos. They can be quite graphic, but serve the purpose of allowing us to understand the horrors that are taking place. It has been much too easy for us to ignore the "plight of Africans" in the past. This is evident as the ongoing war-crimes trial of Rwandan, Désiré Munyaneza, calls witnesses to the atrocities of the Rwandan Genocide. While we still can ignore what is happening if we choose, at least we have the opportunity to gather information and to avoid making our decisions for lack of knowledge.

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