Friday, December 19, 2008

North Pole Norad

One might easily assume that NORAD Tracks Santa is just an independently produced parody that has no connection to the joint U.S./Canadian agency that handles missile defense, but a press release on the NORAD official website makes clear that the site, which allows you to "track Santa in 3-D" on December 24th using Google Earth is actually a bit of state-sanctioned holiday mirth. One can also track Santa on your mobile phone using Google maps or download an iGoogle gadget to follow the progress of Father Christmas.

As I read Lev Manovich's new Creative Commons-licensed online book, Software Takes Command, it is interesting to see how the Google API has been appropriated by the onetime Cold Warriors at NORAD. The group also takes a comparitively liberal view about the portability of their distinctive brand at a time that many government agencies have extensive legal disclaimers about their exclusive rights to authoritative intellectual property, as their media information page shows.

Download the logo for personal use and send it around to your friends, include it on your blog, your social networking page or turn it into your desktop wallpaper or your screensaver. Use of the logo for any purpose other than personal use, including commercial or promotional purposes, is not permitted without the express prior written approval of the NORAD Public Affairs Office.

Although the site is aimed at Internet users, apparently this service also offers telephone lines for calls with children who are eagerly tracing the globe-trotting of St. Nick. Background on the program's original media history is here.

Thanks to Michael Powers for the link!

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