Friday, June 01, 2007

Check Out the View

This week, Google introduced its new "Street View" feature, built into the Google Maps website. So now, in addition to the overhead satellite imagery of an area, you can get a ground-level perspective on things.

"The Street View vista appears in a little frame over the standard Google Map view. You can pan around the view or zoom in just by scrolling or double-clicking. Then, wander through the city by clicking the arrow icons that float over each street."

This is a pretty cool feature that I can see being especially useful for looking up directions to a destination. The view from the sidewalk is a lot easier to navigate from than a bird's-eye view.

Of course, you have to wonder what developments lie ahead for this kind of technology, which is sure to come to your cellphone or GPS device within months. Given that so many people use this feature for navigating, I suppose it's only a matter of time before the "Street View" offered is a live camera feed.

That'd be great for giving you a heads-up about traffic, but in providing an instantly accessible camera on potentially every street corner, you have to worry about privacy concerns. Already, several websites have posted pictures from "Street View" showing a man outside an adult bookstore, women sunbathing, and more.

Public privacy has been steadily shrinking for years as technology has gotten more advanced. But it isn't Big Brother who's been pushing to keep an eye on all of us--we've done that to each other. That distinction is of no comfort to me, but I guess we'll all just have to get used to it.

So smile, you could be on candid camera!

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