Left Bay’s Musings on the Media

Searching for answers in sales and marketing

The New Internet Time-Killer: Google’s Street View

How many hours have I lost to YouTube? We’ve all been magnetized – going to the site to watch just one video, but finding ourselves 20 videos later with an hour lost. Or lost in a string of MySpace pages trying to find someone you thought you used to know. Or immersed in Flickr photo albums that somehow got you trying to figure out why the chicken crossed the road.

I’ve found my latest time-killer: Google’s Street View. I’ve been perusing the streets of Fremont, looking for people in the streets I may know, browsing blogs for funny images while trying to find some on my own, and finding myself like I was after a click frenzy on YouTube: hungry, and an hour behind on my work.

Last week Google announced its new street-level map view, allowing users to zoom in to the maps at street-level. Currently the feature includes the San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, Miami, and Denver areas. With the launch, many privacy issues arose. Many opponents think the images are too close and too private, which I agree with to a point, because some are legitimately creepy. And legible license plates? Too close for me.

I’m mostly amused. Yes, I do think it’s eerie that a Google van is driving around mysteriously somewhere (is it marked?) snapping photos and possibly catching private moments that will be published on the web for all to see. But, through my browse of the images today, it would seem that these private moments are mostly just being used on top 15 lists to humor the viral sphere temporarily. As Street View expands, I’m sure new privacy issues will come to light, but the future I envision is of people browsing the streets to find themselves or people they know doing funny things and plenty more Vote on the Best Urban Images blog posts.


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