Odyssey Online

Friday Blogging, Google Street View

April 3, 2009 · No Comments

…it has been widely reported today that villagers in a small English hamlet turned back a car out taking pictures for Google Street View–the service within Google Maps that allows one to actually see what a street looks like. Yet another break through for Google managing data, and yet another Google tentacle that touches on privacy issues.  Interesting commentary on the whole thing here, here, and here. Siva Vaidhyanathan on the Googlization of Everything has much interesting commentary on Street View.

Google’s response to all of this is its usual “opt out.”  There is simultaneously calming and cloying about Google’s postion. Calming in that Google seems to be suggesting that life has a Edit/Undo command after all, and it’s opting out of Google.  It’s cloying to in that there is indenablely a taunt in Google’s promise. “Go ahead, opt out, see where that gets you.” They are going on with their plan to digitize the world, opt out and marginalize yourself (or so I hear Brin and Page snickering somewhere in California).  It reminds me of the subtle and not so subtle taunts in books and papers like those written by Bill Gates or Marc Prensky which suggested that anyone who resisted conforming their institution or life to digital technologies risked marginalization and, well, being on the wrong end of creative destruction.  One really can find one’s way without Google Maps, without Google Street View, without having every molecule of one’s life digitized without every having to opt in.

That’s it I guess, this time next year we’ll have “opt out” day when we read books, use print maps, road atlases, talk on a rotary phone, etc…

Categories: Essay on Technology · Google

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