Came across a quirky little story from Associated Press yesterday, but one that sort of made me think (and Danny Sullivan too, it seems). It seems that the U.S. Navy is planning to spend $600,000 (about the cost of a new wrench or toilet seat in military terms) to change the structure or appearance of a little-known Navy barracks unit near San Diego. Why? Because it looks like a swastika in Google Earth.


How many planes and helicopters have flown over that building in the 40 years since it was built? Thousands, I would assume. It’s probably been one of those quirky things that local pilots know, but hardly anyone else is aware of. Until Google Earth, of course — or Keyhole, as it was known before Google bought it. Someone first spotted it while using Keyhole in 2005.

According to several reports, the Navy realized the buildings would look like a swastika from the air after they were built, but decided that it wasn’t important because not that many people would be able to see it.

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Mathew 2414 posts

I'm a Toronto-based former senior writer with Gigaom and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

6 Responses to “Google Earth changes our perceptions”
  1. In other news; I hear Italy looks like a booted foot and they are re-landscaping it; as it is suggestively curled up into the groin of Sicily.

  2. Actually I believe it is a no-fly zone for commercial aircraft so it isn’t likely that many people would have seen it from the air.

  3. Are you kidding me! Wow…. power of Google…

  4. Swastika in itself is a positive thing, meaning “big luck”. It’s just Hitler misused it for his own gain.

  5. Thanks a lot, Larry — you really know how to rain on a guy’s parade :-)

  6. Sorry to burst your bubble. :)

    Otherwise it surely would have made big news before now.

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