July 20, 2010

BP's (Photoshop) Command Center: Why the Fake Photo, Guys, Why?

Who knows, maybe a new BP motto might come out of this. Something like: “We will leave no screen unfilled until we cap this baby off!”

In the top scene, you have the doctored photo BP posted of their command center in the “Gulf of Mexico Response in Pictures” section of their website – the pic now disappeared.  Just below it, you have the actual version BP has since posted after being busted for filling in empty screens (the fourth screen/top row and third and forth/bottom row) with views that weren’t there.  (AmericaBlog broke the story and offers visual details, though the difference is plain to see.)

The obvious question here is why? Or better yet, what, if anything, does this show-and-tell us about the mindset inside BP Mission Control right now?  Are we talking about the act of an errant photographer who wanted — obviously, in the worst and most amateurish way (if you look at AmericaBlog’s screen shots) — to make a more robust picture?  Or, are we talking about something more paranoid and systemic to BP in which the idea that three engineers studying seven screens of the oil leak would make the company look worse — as the company musters everything it has to cap the leak off — than pouring over a full ten?

Is the issue here about aesthetics, obsession with corporate image (especially the way A4 and B4 could connote a hospital “flat line”), or both?

(You can click either of these screen shots for a larger view, and click the double arrow to go back-and-forth.  Here, also, is the hi-res “real version” at BP.com.)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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