Google Maps, Street View, House Intruder, Room Eye

The world is changing in a way people are not used to. The Oakland, Ca, citizen Mary Kalin-Casey and her cat, Monty became main characters of a news story at the New York Times. Mary was surprised to see within Google Maps‘ new service “Street View” a street-level view of her building, where, as she zoomed in, she could see Monty, her cat, sitting on a perch in the living room window of her second-floor apartment.

The problem with people is that we all believe that our home is our castle. The Internet made our castle neighbor with other castles. Google Maps made them all appear on the screens of our computers, via satellite pictures. Street View will soon be followed by House Intrudor, and Room Eye. People are already doing that – at Twitter. My friend and colleague Joi Ito publishes there almost every minute, so not only I, but everyone on the Internet knows where he goes, and what he does. He constantly publishes at flickr, and it’s a matter of time before Google figures out a way to put all this together, and make sure that people become visible 24×7.

You don’t like it? Well, try to avoid it. Every time you wake up and switch on your cell phone, your company provider can locate you exactly where you are. The moment you get online, your ISP knows where you are. If you use gmail, Google already knows where you are.

Privacy concerns? Yes, you can use anonymous proxies, but would that help in a more global and small world? I doubt it. Because even to get to the anonymous proxy, you have to use a service provider. Free wi-fi networks? Anyone can monitor what you do.

How the society would change to accept the new reality, I am not quite sure. But I believe that such an open and transparent way to deal with people’s life will change the whole mankind. The start is already given – by the US and Western Europe. It will take a lot of time until Google Maps cover all the world with detailed maps, but that will happen. There will be some countries, which will not be happy from this intrusion. There will be attempts to stop citizens from access to information, there will be filtering, but technology today goes ahead of the law – in fact in many years ahead of it. And no law can protect you from your neighbor’s curiosity.

So, instead of fighting with this, perhaps people should start to think about the way to change their behavior – exactly because anyone can see us at any time, that should make us more responsible, better educated, and more cautios.

Whether we’ll do it – I don’t know. But we have to at least try.

(Disclaimer: I also publish from time to time at twitter and flickr)

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One Response to Google Maps, Street View, House Intruder, Room Eye

  1. vb says:

    I don’t have problems with Street View because, in the end, it’s the street – it is as if you were passing by at that moment in time. Of course there is a magnifying effect, in that that specific moment might not be the one you want to be preserved and spread worldwide, but perhaps it would be enough for users to have a complaint channel at Google so to obtain removal of their image if they don’t like it.

    But, in general, you are absolutely right.

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