Today Google Maps is used for just about anything, whether it’s finding the shortest distance from one place to another or locating the cheapest gas. It’s simply technology that most people overlook. Everyday folk use Google without a second thought, but what happens when Google makes a mistake? Everyday folk may not think anything of it, but in an odd twist of events, a mistake caused by Google nearly started a war in Central America.
The trouble started when a Nicaraguan military commander Google Mapped how far he was able to deploy his troops within their territory. The map showed a part of Costa Rica’s territory as Nicaragua’s. As the Nicaraguan troops unknowingly invaded Costa Rica, Costa Rica responded by deploying heavily armed police, claiming that there was an invasion. This was clearly a big misunderstanding, all started by Google, but as of today, neither side is willing to compromise.
After Google nearly starts a war, some may question technology. After all, if military commanders are having to rely on Google technology to find their location, some might argue that we are becoming a bit too dependent on Google, or technology as a whole.
I, however, disagree. Technology today has changed our country, and even the world. Google is a great example of this, but another would be the website YouTube, which is one of the most popular sites on the Internet. In fact, YouTube is ranked as the number-three most-visited website in the world. The only websites ahead of YouTube are Facebook, and, of course, Google.
YouTube was made in 2005 as a simple way for users to upload their video clips. Today, much like Google, anyone can use this piece of technology free of charge. Over the past five years, however, YouTube has become so much more. YouTube now gives people all over the world a chance to speak their mind, a chance to be listened to, and a chance to potentially change your country.
An example of this technology in action can be seen by one of the most popular YouTube users today, SxePhil. He posts videos several times a week discussing everything from politics to entertainment. Despite doing something so ordinary, he has over 1 million subscribers today from all over the world and over 4 million video views. Not bad for just making a few videos.
While some may think technology today is no big deal, having millions of subscribers who listen to your views on politics has a pretty big impact. Watching the news today can be boring, but watching snarky YouTube videos becomes fun. You suddenly have a group of teenagers and young adults becoming interested in this technology and learning what’s going on all around the world. That may seem like no big deal, but as many countries are finding, it can have a big impact on how politics today is changing.
Take, for example, the 2007 primaries. There were so many political videos buzzing around YouTube that CNN decided to embrace the technology and take part in the first ever YouTube presidential debates. This allowed any YouTube user to create a YouTube video asking the political hopefuls any question they wanted.
Some of the questions YouTube users sent in were serious, such as asking about taxes or education. Others were more on the sarcastic side, like asking Barack Obama his view on slavery. Still other videos took on a bit of both sides, such as when an anthropomorphic snowman asked the candidates about global warming. Sure, young voters could have turned to Google to find out these answers, but seeing how candidates responded to their videos was simply entertaining.
Many people criticized the YouTube debates for being “stupid” or “pointless,” but young voters who enjoyed the technology disagreed. Registered voters ages 18-29 showed up in record numbers on election day, and with most of them voting for the Democratic Party, that just may have cost John McCain the presidential election.
Technology today plays a huge role in everything that goes on around us. Whether it’s tweeting about that cute guy you saw on the way to work, or posting a YouTube video that potentially alters a presidential election, good or bad, technology is here to stay. It unites the world as one. We may speak other language, be of different religions or of different races, but all of us know the joy of Google or YouTube.
It’s been proved time and time again that technology today can change how countries react and handle current situations. Now it’s just up to us to harness that power and make ourselves heard.
Kirit Radia, “Google Nearly Starts a War. Seriously.”
Scott Keeter, “Young Voters in the 2008 Presidential Primaries”
Scott Keeter, “Young Voters in the 2008 Election”
OnPointRadio.com, “The YouTube Election”
YouTube.com, “The CNN Youtube Debate Recap”