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Writing Local Reality: Katrina and the Digital Emergence of New Orleans
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Writing Local Reality: Katrina and the Digital Emergence of New Orleans


2008 CCCC presentation

2008 CCCC presentation

Published in Technology , News & Politics
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  • How recent modes of digital representation ethically frame post-Katrina NO, and why this makes it crucial to become invested in the depiction of this scene (which is a mingled landscape and culture).


  • 1. Writing Local Reality: Katrina and the Digital Emergence of New Orleans J. Tirrell Purdue University
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  • 4. Steven Johnson (Author, The Ghost Map ) “ That selective attack appeared to confirm every elitist clich é in the book: the plague attacking the debauched and the destitute, while passing over the better sort that lived only blocks away. […] Poverty and depravity and low breeding created an environment where disease prospered, as anyone of good social standing would tell you. That’s why they’d built the barricades in the first place” (20). Johnson, Steven. The Ghost Map . New York: Riverhead Books, 2006.
  • 5. Steven Johnson (Author, The Ghost Map ) “ Like Henry Whitehead, Snow brought genuine local knowledge to the Broad Street case. When Benjamin Hall and his public-health committee made their triumphant appearance on the streets of Soho, they were little more than tourists, goggling at all the despair and death, and then retreating back to the safety of Westminster or Kensington. But Snow was a true native. That gave him both an awareness of how the neighborhood actually worked, and it gave him a credibility with the residents, on whose intimate knowledge of the outbreak Snow’s inquiry depended” (147). Johnson, Steven. The Ghost Map . New York: Riverhead Books, 2006.
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  • 13. Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC, Chairman of a House science and technology subcommittee) “ Google’s use of old imagery [in Google Maps and Google Earth] appears to be doing the victims of Hurricane Katrina a great injustice by airbrushing history. […] To use older, pre-Katrina imagery when more recent images are available without some explanation as to why appears to be fundamentally dishonest.” “ Google Accused of Airbrushing Katrina History.” .30 Mar. 2007. Microsoft. 27 Mar. 2008>.
  • 14. John Hanke (Director, Google Maps/Local/Earth) “ Given that the changes that affected New Orleans [maps] happened many months ago, we were a bit surprised by some of these recent comments. Nevertheless, we recognize the increasingly important role that imagery is coming to play in the public discourse […]” Hanke, John. “About the New Orleans Imagery in Google Maps and Earth.” The Official Google Blog . 2 Apr. 2007. Google. 27 Mar. 2008 <>.
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  • 16. Daisy Pignetti (Author, “The ‘I’ of the Storm”) “ How will [people] know what it feels like to return to a home seeping with mold, then have to ‘gut’ it—to literally throw away their collected past? How will they know what the city even looks like?” Pignetti, Daisy. “The ‘I’ of the Storm: How Hurricane Katrina Changed My Life and My Methodology.” C&C Online . (2007). 27 Mar. 2008 <>.