Even Google Struggled to Help Quake-Rocked Japan

Illustration for article titled Even Google Struggled to Help Quake-Rocked Japan

One of the first reactions to March's devastating quake-and-tsunami combo was Google's Person Finder—a database of missing individuals. But even for the search king, it wasn't easy. And the fact that Google's still unknown to many didn't help.

The NYT describes the company's tireless efforts to drop everything and divert its Japanese staff to disaster aid (in its own Google-y way). Google asked users to upload missing persons photos to Picasa to help flesh out the list, and soon they were completely inundated. Thousands of photos poured in, exceeding Google's ability to transcribe them—though the database eventually exceeded an astounding 600,000 people, helping connect friends and family in the aftermath of the disaster.

But the effort revealed the extent to which Google is a distant second place behind Yahoo in Japan. Many Japanese are averse to the company out of privacy concerns, and many simply didn't know what Google was. Which seems impossible, and yet the Times quotes one employee who had to spell it all out from scratch when trying to contact local governments: "I am from an Internet company called Google. We would like your cooperation."


The extent to which Google built their database out of humanitarian empathy or out of market share hunger is an unknown. Likely a mixture of the two. [NYT]

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And this warrants a Fukushima pic because.........? Come on Sam, you're better than this. This is an interesting post backed up by an equally interesting article. It doesn't need you to take license with the photos.

*EDIT* Ack, just saw the Fukushima tag, too. The photo, while a poor choice in my opinion, at least showed earthquake damage. But neither the post nor the article even use the word Fukushima or mention the nuclear situation in passing.