When I discovered Google Earth a while back, I was quite amazed with its capabilities.
After downloading the application and playing with it for about 10 minutes, the novelty wore off.
So much of what and how we remember events in our everyday lives is through scenes in movies we’ve seen.
In the 2nd installment of Tom Clancy‘s Jack Ryan franchise, â€œPatriot Games,â€ I recall seeing a control room scene where the satellite is showing a terrorist training camp in the desert.
The surveillance video showed a woman sitting in the sun. Somehow through the magic of Hollywood, the satellite imagery zoomed in to show the woman was a red head.
At the time, I laughed out loud, thinking to myself of how absurd that could be. Now that I’ve seen what Google Maps can do, I can believe what the military version can do for the spooks.
And what does this have to do with anything?
Recently I had to meet some students at UC Riverside’s California Museum of Photography. I had the address but the actual location of the entrance is hard to describe.
I wracked my brains to come up with a some sort of description or direction. Even thought of taking some pictures when I went by.
Turns out the answer to my problem was right there in Google maps. When you enter the address in the google maps page, it shows up much like Mapquest & Yahoo maps.
The big difference is with Google maps there is sometimes an option called â€œStreet view.â€ Play the video below to see what I mean.
[flashvideo file=https://www.peterphun.com/movies/cmp1_F8_Lg.flv /]
If you click on â€œStreet view,â€ you’ll be presented with a virtual reality view from the street level and you can click your mouse and look around in a 360Â°.
In my case, I just have to take a screen shot of the entrance to the CMP and send that along to my students.
I know, I’m assuming that my students are web savvy. But it’s a lot easier than trying to describe on the phone which way is left and north and so on to the directionally challenged.
So the next time you’re organizing something, try this tip and see if your Google map search returns with a â€œStreet View.â€
Oh, I naturally tried entering my home address. The street view showed the “approximate address” but what’s scary is my car can be seen in our driveway.
Understandably the resolution can’t be very high otherwise these virtual reality images would take ages to load. So individual house numbers or car license plates can’t be read. It’s enough to remind me that it’s all about information and who has access to it.
[flashvideo file=https://www.peterphun.com/movies/google_map2a_F8_Lg.flv /]
So, why then did I say this is freaky? Enter your home address in that search field. When I saw my car in my driveway, initially all sorts of bells and alarms went off in my head.
Then I started to wonder who Google pays to drive around to do these pictures from the street level. Not all searches have a â€œStreet Viewâ€ yet. I suppose eventually they will.
I can think of how this could be useful if I were in the market for a house and I wanted to just see what the neighborhood looks like, couldn’t you?