8 comments on “The Watcher Watched.

  1. My son recently discovered this. A few weeks ago, he came racing into the kitchen, so excited he was shouting, “Mom! You’ve got to come and look at this!”

    I followed him into his room and looked at his computer monitor. I was staring at the front of house. I instinctively looked over my shoulder for a second. It was a very creepy feeling.

    I asked him to show me how he had done that. He typed our address into Google and it took him straight to it. First, from a sky view, from which he zoomed in and “drove” the cursor down our street and turned into our front yard.

    We know it was a recent shot because the picture reflected some specific yard work that had just been done.

    I definitely felt like we were being watched.

  2. It was a little different for me — the UK not having been mapped in this way, yet — but I can certainly imagine how you felt. Strange, isn’t it? I mean, the overhead photography is weird enough — being able to look at your own back garden/yard from somewhere up there — but to be able to “walk” down the street like that… fantastic, clever and just a little worrying!

    For me, it was the medium itself that somehow affected me. As I was going down Maple Avenue, virtually, it became inexplicably real. I became very aware of the people living unseen in the houses… and even more aware of the bizarre possibility that they might somehow be looking back at me (through the computer!) My cosy sense of watching without being seen evaporated, as ridiculous as I know that to be. Very briefly… it was almost a feeling of paranoia. One of those big “what if” moments that scare the bejesus out of me but which are invaluable to Writer Me!

    I do love Google Earth, though. We have some wonderful countryside around these here parts, but to get to some of it sometimes requires taking roads that can, frankly, be pretty scary if you haven’t got an off-road vehicle! So before we to exploring somewhere new (and there’s always somewhere new!), we Google Earth it to find the best route — with the best road conditions!

  3. One of those big “what if” moments that scare the bejesus out of me but which are invaluable to Writer Me!

    As I was reading your comment, I was thinking exactly that. It makes for some excellent writing material. Especially for what you have lined up. 😀

  4. Will: That’s a right balls up, isn’t it? And I’m not really sure where I stand on the argument. I’m very big on protecting intellectual property, naturally, but YouTube is actually becoming one of the first places I visit when I’m looking for information on a given subject these days. I much prefer watching a lecture on something I’m researching than reading about it! And, as well as this, Google being forced to hand over the viewing log is a serious concern. I’m with the Electronic Frontier Foundation on this point — a setback to privacy rights, for which I lay the blame at the feet of the US court system rather than Google.

    Lottie: Yes, there’s almost a weird synchronicity to it! Especially when you factor in Will’s comment on privacy policies. At the moment, we only have to worry about viewing logs being handed over to US courts etc — we are undoubtedly being watched. But imagine a few years down the line, technological capability expanding exponentially… what if the process became more intrusive, more invasive? Government agencies covertly creating software — like Google Earth, for example — that watches the watcher, monitors, records, reports… surveillance to the nth degree.

    Fun, or what? 🙂

  5. I used Google Earth for the first time this weekend, including the rather unnerving street views. I was able to stand in front of (so to speak) the house I grew up in in Akron, Ohio and haven’t seen in 18 years. My husband and I sat here on the couch and “walked around” the apartment complex we first lived in as married couple 37 years ago. We were able to stand in front of our own current house, but were secretly delighted that the extensive foliage in the front yard blocks a direct view of the house.

    At one time, I fancied myself a writer and have several imaginary families that I wrote about. I had one family placed on Chesapeake Bay but actually visited there for the first time a year and a half ago and was disappointed to find out that the setting was all wrong. I “drove” up and down some streets in Annapolis, Maryland last night and found the right setting. I felt like a voyeur, yes, and had to remind myself that these were not real-time photos, that they were 360-degree photographs taken at a time in the past. Odd sensation, though, isn’t it?

    • Incredibly odd, yes! And also incredibly addictive.

      I do find it quite useful, though, both creatively and in a more general sense. For example, my publisher recently moved office and, me not being able to travel, I found myself wondering about the location, etc — so I booted up Google Earth, accessed Street Views and was very pleased to see that it was located in a rather swish part of the city. And quite right, too 😉

      So now that you’ve found the right setting, will you be returning to the writing? I do hope so.

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