On The Washington Post, Emily Badger looks at the problem Google finds itself in when representing Crimea on its Google Maps service. Depending where in the world you look at Crimea, it either looks like it is either part of Russia, part of Ukraine, or a disputed country.
But from a consumer perspective, it's easy to imagine how these maps might create a false sense of consensus on disputed borders. If you live in Russia and you think Crimea now belongs to the motherland, this map tells you that you're right. Maybe you think it's telling you that the world agrees with you. Quite literally, it's giving you a different version of reality than the one other people see on this same plot of land.
The problem of mapping disputed borders isn't a new one, or even a product of the Internet age. But this particular scenario brings us back to the original question, which has relevance at all scales, whether in your neighborhood, your city, your country or your part of the world: If the map I see is different from the one you do, how are we going to agree on what we're looking at -- or even know that we're not looking at the same thing?
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