Google Street View in the News

street view

Google Street View has delighted Googlephiles and armchair explorers alike, yet flirted with controversy and provoked outrage at what critics see as an invasion of privacy. Whilst personally I love the unique detail offered, and use it regularly with success to find football stadiums across my country to write match reports the sheer volume of visual data gathered has made for whole new stream of news.

Street view hasn’t become just the mapping aid intended by the all-conquering software giant, it has become a record arbitrary, random and diverse moments of humanity itself.

The most recent headline was the apparent capture by Google’s street view cars of nothing less than a birth (Is there anything Google hasn’t captured, filed and made search-able?). This was later debunked here, but it makes me wonder that if this service, still in its infancy, can record so much of humanity whilst simply enriching maps, what else can it accomplish?

Consider, as well as the birth which was debunked here, Google had to remove images of corpses recorded in Brazil. Just as sinister was the apparent photo of a UK schoolgirl lying dead on a roadside, however this was later proven to be a prank. A fat bloke caught an image of himself and was so ashamed he lost seven (seven?!) stone. Brilliantly, a couple of angry Norwegians in scuba diving gear actually gave chase to one of the street view cars. This surreal portrayal of a naked man climbing into his car boot is nothing short of outstanding.

People have become wise to it of course. A well-endowed office worker picked her moment to expose herself. My countryman HorseBoy provided amusement by somehow knowing when to don a horse’s head (fake of course) and pose deadpan as the street view car approached. A German art group attached a GPS tracker to one of the cars and published where it had been. A motorhome thief may have been pictured in the act.

Waldo was even found.

As mentioned above, the service is still new, for example it’s still to mature in such established western countries as Germany. So I wonder what other dramatic, diverse and delightful images we can look forward to.

Where do you stand, do you hate or rate the Street View service? Pour in your thoughts in the comments section below.

Greig Byrne