Natural Search Blog


Town Creates Smiley Face in Google Maps

Saw this interesting thing on Slashdot today:

Hoax Smiley in Google Maps
(click to enlarge)

Apparently this Russian town got a crowd of people to don yellow slickers and stand in a large smiley face pattern so that Google Earth and Google Maps could capture them in their next update.

Trick is, the Google Map screen-grab appears to be a very obvious hoax by a blogger dubbed “Heiner Wolf“. According to these photos, people really did turn out to form the smiley face — I would guess as part of a radio station promotion. But this blogger transposed the people onto the Google Maps image of the area. Lame!

There are plenty of instances of messages appearing in Google Maps pics, if you want to see real ones: examples of roof ads, cool things in Google Maps, marriage proposals, and the infamous Swastika Building.

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Google Maps forces Navy to redesign swastika building

Quite some time back, I came across this Swastika-shaped building via Google Maps, and posted the screengrab in my Flickr account. Since then, it became one of my most popular Flickr pictures, since strange stuff like this can become quickly viral. Loads of people (16,000+) have viewed the photo’s page, and then various journalists contacted me and posted the photo on news stories in Europe and elsewhere. Here it is:

Google Map of Swastika-Shaped Building
(click to view swastika photo profile page)

I researched the building and found it was a Navy building, apparently built unintentionally in the shape of a Nazi Swastika in California. This was built way before people anticipated the general public would be viewing buildings from the sky all that much, but now the easy accessibility of viewing satellite pics from Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Mapquest, Microsoft Live Maps, and other utilities have made birds-eye-viewing all too common. I photo-blogged the info I researched on the Flickr page, and quite a few people commented and favorited the unusual picture over time.

Today, CNN reported on the swastika building, and they added one really interesting new detail: (more…)


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