Is your house on Google Street View? It was launched in Britain last week and has been the subject of oohs and aahs in offices throughout the country. Much of Edinburgh has been “done”, including our street. First there was Google Earth, allowing you to zoom in on any city. I noticed the other day that the Google Earth image of our house has been updated. No longer does the blue car (long gone) have a ghostly presence in our driveway; it’s been replaced by the red one. The image is pretty clear. If I’d been sunbathing naked in the back garden you’d be able to see me. (Note to self: don’t start doing this.)
And now there’s Street View. There’s our house. Our bedroom is at the front and you can see the mirror on the dressing table. A plant pot has been blown over in the front garden. The grass is newly cut and it must be the end of summer because the bedding plants are past their best. My mother’s house can be found too, and the houses where I grew up. Would you like to see where I lived from the ages of 12-24? A lot of thinking and growing up went on in that bedroom overlooking the back and side of the house. If you’re interested, go to Google Maps, type in EH15 2NZ and move slightly to the left. It’s the big house standing back from the road. It used to be a farmhouse many years ago but long before my parents bought it most of the land was sold off for housing. The straight-on image is two photos stuck together; you can see that the roof and half of the windows at the left are slightly down from where they should be. Move to the left and the windows join themselves together again. Our current house isn't so fine, alas. (I can’t see how to copy pictures from Street View. Does anyone know?)
The photo above is of my cat Dido in the back garden of that house. Below you see Dido and me - in a then-fashionably short skirt. I don't think it looked quite so short when I stood up.
Is Street View is good thing or an absolutely appalling one? It appeals to the horribly inquisitive side of me. But is it too Big Brotherish? People in other cities have complained about what they think are intrusive images of themselves – a man vomiting outside a pub, another going into a sex shop. One of my colleagues was shown by a student a Street View picture of this student in her dressing gown, taking the rubbish down her path to put it in the bin. The student thinks it’s hilarious. Is it?
I certainly wouldn’t like Street View to be live. That would be very intrusive. Or at least I think it would. And I can’t help feeling that it will be the next development.
We bloggers, of course, fling our lives open to any passer-by through stories and photos about our joys, sorrows, worries and dreams. Blogs might seem more revealing than any images of a house at one moment last summer. But bloggers have a choice. We reveal what we want. I’m currently wearing a blue denim calf-length skirt with a faint floral pattern, a plain lighter blue blouse, a navy cardigan and black loafers. Or is it a pink miniskirt, strappy top in stripes of green and pink and white stilettos? I’m not telling (though I imagine you can guess). But anyone can see on Street View that my front door is dark blue and that we have a gravel drive. Weird? Spooky? Intrusive? Legitimate right to know? Or just fun?