Google appears in the middle of a war zone

Is there anywhere on the planet that Google doesn’t exist?

It spread across the web like a wildfire: Google chief Eric Schmidt visited Baghdad today. Yes, just like a statesman. He attended a ceremony with the US Ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill, at Iraq’s national museum, where he announced that the search giant would post photographs of the museum’s ancient treasures on the net early next year.

The museum – which hosts artefacts from Babylonian, Assyrian and Sumerian cultures – hit the headlines when it was looted in April 2003 during the Iraq war. Its director, Amira Edan, estimates that only around 5,000 of the 15,000 artefacts taken have been recovered so far.

The US has been criticised for not using troops to protect the museum and other cultural institutions with their troops. Now Google has taken more than 14,000 pictures of the treasures to be put online. That is good. Due to security concerns the artefacts of the cradle of civilisation have been largely closed to the public, even after the museum opened earlier this year. But it leaves a strange feeling as well, with private company Google once again serving a more public interest.