Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Google Street View Car getting lost in Florence

Yesterday, after playing with the new iPhone and blogging about Android, I set out on my usual walk to the bread shop. For the first time with an iPhone in my pocket (tempting to walk along playing with it). I had gone barely 50 metres when I noticed a black car moving up the street, rather uncertainly, with a large tripod on top. Could it be? Is it really? Yes, as it turned left towards Via Dante Castiglione, I noticed that the large tripod superstructure was certainly a bunch of cameras, and there was a prominent Google logo stuck on the inside of the rear window. A Google Camera car on its rounds, canning street views of our leafy suburb, which almost surely means that I will now be fixed and smudged as the indistinct figure in a sloppy jumper, when the Google Street view shows the rest of the world this part of Florence in 2 months time (wonder what the delay is in processing street views?). I was too slow with my iPhone to take a shot but there are plenty at Flickr:

Google Car in Bristol

And here is a close up of the camera: there is something almost comic about the Heath Robinson quality of the Google survey cars, which look somewhat experimental. But the whole process will surely be completely automated once the digital video gets into the Google workflow. I can not believe that they employ 'street view editors'. If they did, there is just a chance that one of them might intervene in my interests: "We can't have our view of Florence messed up by that tramp in sloppy jumper at 0.016181,0.038409&z=15. Can someone erase him?".

Nope, its bound to be completely automated and I am afraid that I am now immortalised as a smudge in Google Street View. It is quite extraordinary the way in which the web now touches us in the most specific and exact detail throughout our lives, and so many web systems are now ingesting mundane information from all corners of the earth.

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