03 February, 2008

As Seen By Google

Is it too invasive for Google to post pictures of your dwelling online? I'm not sure. On one hand, I think the new Street View feature on Google Maps is kinda cool. You can cruise up and down the streets of your town, or look around a city you've never been to before. Or catch a view of a landmark impossible to get otherwise. At the same time, I felt slightly violated when I found pictures of my own home online. What if I had been standing at the window when the Google cameras drove by, wearing my scary glasses and Boo Boo Bear pajamas, unwilling yet to face the world? What if I had kids? Would I want somebody to be able to zoom in on them at their leisure?

The Box House. Don't try to use the zoom or navigation features visible in these images. This is a screen capture from Google Maps.

Alternate view of The Box House before we purchased it, as seen by Google.

The condo building where we are currently renting out our unit, which we hope to sell when the market improves.

Before we bought The Box House, while we were still shopping around, I would pull up all of the addresses of the homes we were looking at on Street View for an unhurried look at the neighborhood. Much of the Chicago area has now been mapped. More than once, potential future neighbors could be seen watering their lawns, washing their cars, or hanging out on their front porch. I even mentioned it to one woman we encountered. "Hey, we saw you with your kids online." She had no idea what I was talking about, hadn't heard of Google's streetview, and I think I freaked her out more than a little bit--about how what she obviously saw as a violation of her privacy by a company happened without her knowledge and, maybe more so, about her new potential neighbor who was looking at her and her family without her knowing it.

Google Street View isn't in all areas yet--my mom's other house hasn't been photographed yet, nor my brother's house outside of Houston--although it looks as if the Google camera van is documenting areas closer and closer to them all the time. If it hasn't made it to your neck of the woods yet, here are a few voyeuristic links to follow:

One Guy's List of Top 15 Things Seen on Google Street View
Ten Urban Street Scenes


Anonymous said...

That is a little creepy if you ask me... I hope I'm not walking around the house naked when and if they come by our street. Or worse, what if I am actually laying out in the yard or something embarrassing like that! Interesting though!

BeccaMarie said...

I didn't know they did that! Just checked it out and our town isn't on there. That is creepy though! Lucky for us if they ever do it around here we live far enough in the middle of no where that the little arrow comes up 4 house down from us...which is about a mile off!

Jennifer said...

I saw the top of our house on a virtual map... a little creepy!

Joanne said...

So creepy seems to be the general consensus, then.

I hate to think what Google is going to accomplish next.