Friday, June 01, 2007

Whoa, been over to Google Maps lately and checked out the new "Street View?" Holy smokes, I don't know whether to cry with joy or laugh in terror.

Street View allows you to navigate video stills of streets as if you were walking them (only major streets in cities in the SF Bay Area, and other major streets in a handful of American and Canadian cities, have been thus mapped as of this writing). You can also pan 360 degrees and zoom to the level that you can see the face of a person walking on the sidewalk.

The joy: so frikken cool, and I've already had a ball looking at my friends' neighborhoods and homes. I look forward to navigating cities I've never visited and might not ever, like Sao Paulo in Brazil or any number of places in Australia, and of course finally seeing what it looks like around where some of my online friends live.

But the joy is also the terror. People are already squawking about privacy issues and the ever-growing possibility of Google becoming the all-seeing big bad, in cahoots with evil corporations, evil governments, NAMBLA, all of the former, or [insert not-as-all-seeing, but with a compliant Goog, as-equally-big-bad average citizen nemesis here] to divide us from our hard-earned cash, put us in jail, take away our [speech, guns, porno, etc.], indoctrinate our children, or other equally wicked wickedness.

I know we've all watched and read enough sci-fi to be concerned about the implications of anything that may sow the seeds of dystopia, but is it really that much of a problem? In this increasingly web-based world, is Mr. Murdoch tracking your every word on MySpace and selling it to The Gap more or less sinister than your husband possibly seeing you kiss your lover goodbye in your driveway on Street View?

I guess the question is less that than this: in this increasingly web-based world, are we becoming too comfortable, and it is time to start reining in our personal presence on the web? Or should we just trust and realize that to live in a reasonable manner you'll never be off the grid entirely, so just roll with (or without) caution?



Blogger stardust savant said...

I have the same feelings about this that you do - sguee with technogirl joy or cower when I walk outside on a busy street? It's not so much the invasion of privacy that scares me (though, don't get me wrong, it does) but Google itself. Yeah they have some awesome stuff and are really useful, but when they start doing stuff like this then what is the next step? And where do they draw the line?

Luckily for me, Jacksonville doesn't have any street view data at all, much less my wee little farming town way down in the southwest corner of the Jax Metro Area.

June 2, 2007 at 8:27:00 AM PDT  

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