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Google beams disaster tourists into tsunami aftermath

Street View before-and-after gallery erected

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Google spy cars have been out snapping the wreckage from the Japanese tsunami, so everyone can see the damage a big wave can do and how long reconstruction is taking.

The dating of images isn't limited to those taken in Japan: every picture in Street View worldwide now has a month and year attached - finally ending the game of "when did they take that", which has filled so many bored afternoons in offices around the planet. But it's the images taken before and after the tsunami that prompted the update.

Disaster tourism used to mean travelling to unstable parts of the world to lament the suffering of mankind, but now we can all see just how unpleasant being hit with a big wave can be from the comfort of our own (still standing) homes.

This emotional self flagellation is supposed to make us feel more connected to those whose lives were really destroyed, or as Google puts it:

Seeing the street-level imagery of the affected areas puts the plight of these communities into perspective and ensures that the memories of the disaster remain relevant and tangible for future generations.

Google has even prepared a guided tour, called Memories for the Future, which allows the virtual tourist to flip between before and after images - in case wandering randomly through the ruins isn't enough.

The date tags now appended to all Street View images appear in the bottom left. Since they only show the month and year the photograph was taken, there's sill some wriggle room for a philanderer caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, just not as much as there used to be. ®

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