Google Accidentally Sinks Scottish Island

According to Google Maps, the residents of the island of Jura, Scotland, are drowning in the Atlantic Ocean. In reality, they’re fine. An error in the program, discovered earlier this month, has resulted in the island showing up as a mere patch of ocean off the west coast of Scotland — albeit one with a ...

590162_maps_02.jpg
590162_maps_02.jpg

According to Google Maps, the residents of the island of Jura, Scotland, are drowning in the Atlantic Ocean. In reality, they're fine. An error in the program, discovered earlier this month, has resulted in the island showing up as a mere patch of ocean off the west coast of Scotland -- albeit one with a road going through it.

The picturesque island, partly covered by wilderness and home to 5,000 deer, has just 200 people, many of whom seem to be more amused than concerned about their island's disappearance. The deer could not be reached for comment.

The island's "definitely still here," Lisa McDonald, who works at the Jura Hotel, told Scotland's Deadline News. "I'm on it at the moment. We're all safe and sound."

According to Google Maps, the residents of the island of Jura, Scotland, are drowning in the Atlantic Ocean. In reality, they’re fine. An error in the program, discovered earlier this month, has resulted in the island showing up as a mere patch of ocean off the west coast of Scotland — albeit one with a road going through it.

The picturesque island, partly covered by wilderness and home to 5,000 deer, has just 200 people, many of whom seem to be more amused than concerned about their island’s disappearance. The deer could not be reached for comment.

The island’s “definitely still here,” Lisa McDonald, who works at the Jura Hotel, told Scotland’s Deadline News. “I’m on it at the moment. We’re all safe and sound.”

Jura’s single malt scotch whisky distillery, which once employed a quarter of the island’s male population, somehow spotted a marketing opportunity in the peculiar situation, promising a free bottle of whisky to the Twitter user who could put an ‘X’ closest to the distillery’s location.  

The winner? One Lucy Clapham, whose “first class orienteering skills” were duly recognized.

Others had a more political take on the vanishing island, even managing to connect the glitch with Scotland’s upcoming referendum on independence and Britain’s controversial Trident nuclear submarines.

The theories will probably die down once Google restores the island to its map, but it’s unclear when that will be. A Google spokeswoman announced on July 5 that engineers were “beavering away” to correct the glitch, but the island has not yet reappeared. That’s a lot of beavering.

On Tuesday, the delay prompted the Scottish walking site Walkhighlands to tweet directly at Ed Parsons, a Google “geospatial technologist”:

You heard it hear first, folks: If you see Google engineers with bottles of Jura Whisky, you’ll know why.

<p> Peter Sullivan is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy. </p>

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