Although this is an early media thing, it appears that Google is using its Google Earth tool to highlight atrocities in the Darfur region of Sudan.
I have to reserve judgment here if only to grasp what I think about this. My initial reaction is to think this is a positive thing — where our governments and the international community appears to be silent on these issues, Google and other large corporations may be able to pick up the slack — if only by highlighting the reality of what is going on.
I hope this embarrasses the heck out of the leaders of Sudan, and starts a call to action in politicians in that region.
This also makes me wonder about what librarians and libraries could do about social justice issues internationally. Right now I am reading Jeffrey Sach’s The End of Poverty which, to my surprise, is high on action, inspiration and optimism which goes along with the only conclusion one can really make about a good lot of countries in Africa — there is a big problem there; the problem is our fault; we have the ability to fix it and we do not.
That said, the sword that swings at Darfur can swing at anyone. Assuming Page and Brin do not live forever, where does this power end and who will end up with it all in the future. Is being spied on by the entire Internet any better (or worse) than being spied on by governments? This will be a hard question to answer in the not-so-far-ahead future.
Again, I still have to reserve judgment, because I am not convinced that I have all the details here. It is a definite area that I am interested in, though.