Placemarks and waterlines: Racialized cyberscapes in post-Katrina Google Earth

Michael Crutcher, Matthew Zook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations


Google Earth was released a few months prior to Hurricane Katrina and became an important tool in distributing information about the damage occurring in New Orleans, albeit not to all parts of society. While Google Earth did not create the economic and racial divides present in society, its use in the post-Katrina context reflect this gulf and have arguably reinforced and recreated it online. This paper has three main objectives. The first is to provide a clear empirical case study of how race remains relevant to the way people use (or do not use) the internet and internet based services. The second is highlighting the power of new online and interactive mapping technologies and demonstrating how these technologies are differentially adopted. The third and final objective is illustrating how any divide in accessing digital technology is not simply a one time event but a constantly moving target as new devices, software and cultural practices emerge. Thus, in addition to highlighting the racial inequalities in US society in general, Hurricane Katrina provides an important window on the way in which race remains a key factor in the access and use of emerging digital technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-534
Number of pages12
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2009


  • Cyberscape
  • Digiplace
  • Google
  • Hurricane katrina
  • Internet
  • New orleans
  • Racialized landscapes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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