Saturday, March 28, 2009

Street View

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 No longer does the blue car (long gone) have a ghostly presence in our driveway; it’s been replaced by the red one.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?


  1. I tend to think if there are no recognizable people, and any requests to remove private residences were complied with, there is probably nothing wrong with it. But there is plenty of evidence that "If you're not guilty, you have nothing to worry about" is not an accurate assertion. Perhaps if it were an opt-in-only situation, post your own street view if you want it, that would be ok.

  2. I am not sure whether it is a good idea. It is fun to locate an old house, or look for a friend's. We saw with disgust our house had been taken on the day the rubbish bins were on the kerb! Not such a good look.

    You do look so pretty sitting on the lawn, kidding to Dido!

  3. I'm not that bothered, to be honest. If it is only showing what you could see by walking down the public street anyway, what's the problem? If you choose to take the recycling out in your nightie, you must presumably be willing to be spotted by passers-by. It's just that those passers-by might now be in America or Canada or Australia or Glasgow or........

    And by the way? Woo hoo on that mini dress!! (But please don't wear the pink miniskirt and white stilettos next time we meet for coffee. The staff in the National Trust tearoom will have a stroke!)

  4. I thought "they" (I suppose the = Google in this case) removed people from the street view stuff, because of the intrusiveness. Perhaps that's just in the US. I just had a little cyber-wander around Portobello, odd seeing my childhood Neighborhood, with the odd person wandering about.

  5. Hmmm. I don't know Isabelle. I think it might be a little creepy. Hubby says we don't have it for our city yet -- I guess an advantage to not living in a big city. What a charming picture of you with the kitty -- I see your kitty love started early.

    And well, I'm so impressed you can still wear stilettos. I had to give mine up years ago.

  6. I have not used Google Earth often enough to have strong qualms about it. The technological advances of the last century are so amazing. To get photos of the entire Earth is stunningly wonderful, and I love being able to see places I have been to. I must give it another try.

  7. I agree with Thimbleanna. I think it's a bit creepy/intrusive. Yes, it's what the average passerby can see, but online it's like someone seeking us, peeking at us. I am not fond of the idea.
    I do, however, like the photo of you and the kitty. Such a lovely photo!

  8. I'm not really bothered, except that people that do know my address can google streetview me and see that all the bins are out, which looks nasty,
    and my daughter standing on the balcony looking at the google car.
    It must have been in the height of summer 2007-8 because the grass looks all burnt off and dry, whereas this year we have had RAIN!! and its all GREEN.

    Sydney also had a special high resolution fly-over about a year ago: the google earth view of my suburb is so amazingly clear you can see people quite clearly. You can also see all the way to the bottom of the sea, folks on the beach, the boats pulled up on the sand, people's hats, toys in our pool.

    It's fascinating.

    It must have been a

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