Google Maps Lets Users Search For Loch Ness Monster - InformationWeek

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4/21/2015
12:10 PM
Nathan Eddy
Nathan Eddy
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Google Maps Lets Users Search For Loch Ness Monster

The Loch Ness Monster probably doesn't exist, but Google Maps is putting a new level of fun back into the hunt for Nessie.

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Google Maps has taken users inside museums around the world and under CERN. It's even transformed cities into Pac-Man levels. Now the search giant has brought 360-degree Street View imagery of Loch Ness in Scotland to Maps, so you can go in search of Nessie yourself.

The search giant announced the feature on Tuesday, April 21, to coincide with the anniversary of the legendary "Surgeon's Photograph" from 1934, which purportedly revealed the Loch Ness Monster to the world.

The controversy surrounding the authenticity of the photo captivated the world. It remains to this day one of the preeminent symbols of conspiracy theories, or hoaxes, depending on your view of the matter.

"Like the world's best legends, the Loch Ness Monster transcends the everyday and exists at the edges of possibility," Sven Tresp, Google's program manager for Street View special collections, wrote on the company's official Maps blog.

Loch Ness
(Image: Google)

Loch Ness

(Image: Google)

"It rises above the sightings and the hoaxes; the claims and counter-claims; the tourism, the nationalism -- and even the assassination plots," Tresp added. "It lives in the telling of stories. Whether or not you believe, most people hold a romanticized vision of the creature that, legend has it, plumbs the depths of the Loch."

In addition to the tour, Google also celebrated the anniversary on its main Web search page with a custom Doodle of an animated Nessie submarine driven by three aliens.

The Doodle's creator explained that sketching boats in dockyards, where the underwater workings of the vessels were revealed, served as the inspiration for the illustration.

In developing the Loch Ness tour, Google partnered with experts at the Catlin Seaview Survey, who dived deep under the surface of the lake, collecting imagery along the way.

Loch Ness stretches for 23 miles southwest of Inverness, Scotland. At 800 feet in depth, it is the largest Scottish loch by volume, containing more fresh water than all the lakes of England and Wales combined.

Google also produced a slick two-and-a-half-minute documentary about the process featuring Adrian Shine, the leader of the Loch Ness and Morar Project.

Shine, a Loch Ness expert, has logged more than a thousand Nessie sightings, and has offered scientific explanations for why people claim to have seen Scotland's mysterious cryptid. Tresp called Shine, who has been engaged in fieldwork in the Highlands since 1973, an "integral part" of the project.

"Wherever you stand on the Nessie debate, the legend lives on -- even in the digital era," Tresp wrote. "Let the Loch unlock the spirit of your imagination, where the rippling water, tricks of the light, and drifting logs bring the legend of Nessie to life."

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This is the second time this month that Google has shown off its creative and playful side. On April Fools, Google rolled out several of its patented pranks, including Smartbox by Inbox and the company's Actual Cloud Platform.

However, Google saved the best for last by combining the video game classic Pac-Man with Google Maps -- allowing users to turn their neighborhood into the arcade of their youth.

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Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio
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SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
4/24/2015 | 2:43:57 PM
Re: The April Fool Doodle
@yalanand: I've a friend who works in Google Zurich and he says that their fun philosophy affects the work life balance of people in Google Zurich as well, in a positive way. He told me that he works only 8 hours everyday but that is hard, logical and brain racking work.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
4/24/2015 | 2:34:00 PM
Re: Google Maps Lets Users Search For Loch Ness Monster
The earth day doodle was an interesting bit. It had one of those "Find which animal you are" app like we get on facebook. I got a Komodo Dragon as my spirit animal.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
4/22/2015 | 4:33:39 AM
Re: Google Maps Lets Users Search For Loch Ness Monster
Well, Google certainly doesn't mess around; I'm posting this comment just after midnight, and I just noticed that the doodle on the front page has already been changed to something representing Earth Day. A whole project about Nessie that probably cost more than some companies' net worth, just for one day of air time on the site. Of course, it's all still accesible for posterity, and I did get a chance to check it out earlier. There's a cool 'making of' video along with the attached blog that explains how Mr. Shine came to research the Loch(s) over 40 years ago. He must be in a unique position to appreciate how amazing it is that modern technology makes easy research that would have been impossible back then. It says a lot about how far science has come.

The folks from Google are happy to play neutral party and advocate both sides, but obviously most of us here know that the Loch Ness monster doesn't really exist. What I didn't know was the full story behind how the infamous surgeon's photo was a hoax, and why it's originator supposedly set it up to fool a publication. That makes this an interesting case for how modern technology can connect us to our past and shed new light on all kinds of other urban myths or legends. I can explore the Loch in a lot of detail here, with a history lesson to go along with it - imagine a future where it also enables me to look through the churches and castles nearby. Imagine something like this to explore the pyramids of Egypt, or the haunted places of Salem. Imagine future integrations with other technologies like IoT layered on top. There's a lot to get excited about there.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Author
4/21/2015 | 2:45:49 PM
Re: The April Fool Doodle
@yalanand Do you speak from first-hand experience? Do you work there?
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
4/21/2015 | 2:09:40 PM
The April Fool Doodle
The pacman game inside google maps was an amazing and interactive touch to Google's operability. This just shows how the company works. The company stresses on fun as well as work, which makes it the best possible company to work under.
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