Reality continues to take a back seat in China, where Baidu has created CG images of local cities in order to side-step the countries strict censorship laws. At issue are laws that regulate what aerial images of China can be publicly viewed. This effectively hamstrings companies like Google that use actual photos in their maps.
Baidu Maps approached the problem by creating an artistic vision of the city without showing anything to raise any eyebrows with the government. The result is a weirdly beautiful map, that’s searchable and allegedly as usable as Google Maps. The inclusion of little details like construction equipment only emphasizes the strange, SimCity nature of the whole thing.
Though it’s a clever solution, it solves a very strange problem. But what’s really important is that the idea of creating special maps to the specifications of unseen overlords gives me the opportunity to link to the surreal 1960′s TV thriller The Prisoner.
Be seeing you!