Two months ago, Jessamyn West noticed something about the Google Maps location of her small town, Randolph, VT. Instead of being tucked somewhere in central Vermont, Google had moved the official location of Randolph into the middle of a lake.
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“I was having some friends visit a couple months ago in April, and I was trying to explain to them how to get here and they asked, “Which Randolph do you live in?” But there’s only one Randolph in Vermont. But they said, “No, no. There’s one up by Randolph Center and one in the lake.” And they showed me if you type for just the name of the town, Randolph VT, it shows you a little dot in the middle of Lake Champlain, nowhere near here,” she says. “It’s 100 miles from here.”
The correct location for Randolph could be found by searching the town’s zip code, 05060, or by using a full street address, but if you’re searching Randolph the town, you might need a boat. Google’s driving directions, comically, direct users to the edge of Lake Champlain. (Note: Other online maps, like MapQuest have Randolph in its correct spot.)
Mostly amused, West says she reported the problem to Google in hopes of seeing the snafu fixed. She said Google did reply to say that the problem would be corrected in the next 30 days, but nothing happened. She filed another report and waited. Still nothing.
“I tell other people in the town, most of them think it’s funny,” she says. “This is rural Vermont, most of (the people) don’t even know what Google Maps is, much less what it means, so it’s hard to even explain it. But still, nothing’s really happening. And whatever, I like Google. I have no issue with Google, but this is really vexing. There appears to be no way to solve the problem.”
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Then West says she remembered David Carroll, the musician who, while watching the cargo loaded onto his United Airlines flight, saw the rough handling that led to the damage of his guitar. Carroll and his band, Sons of Maxwell, took to YouTube, writing a series of United Breaks Guitars diddies, that went viral within weeks. With her friends, West joked that they should write a song of their own, alerting the world that Google had declared Randolph unofficially underwater.
She, along with her mother, boyfriend and a few friends wrote Hey Google, My Town’s In The Lake, a funny ode to West’s personal frustration with the search engine’s mapping blip.
Still, West says, it’s all in good fun for now … just so long as the problem’s fixed eventually. “It’s not even that it’s in the wrong location. It’s in a place that physically, we cannot be.”