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good thing Google isn't evil

As you already know if you read any other blogs, Google has added something called "Street View" to Google Maps. Basically, they've got vans with cameras driving around and taking pictures of everything; then the elves at Google HQ somehow combine the images so you can pan the view as in those old Quicktime VR thingies. Only with Google you can also move your viewpoint, walking down the virtual street, if you will. It's very cool, if only because it lets you see things like this:

When more cities are covered (as of now only parts of San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York, and Miami are visible) this is going to be super useful. Heretofore I've been reduced to trying to use the satellite view to figure out where, for example, the entrance to a parking lot is before I try and drive there; how much better would it be to be able to get an actual street level view?

Naturally, some folks have come out against the whole thing as an invasion of privacy. Sure, some people were photographed by the van and frozen forever in Googlemapland (at least until the next update); other people didn't close their blinds so anyone checking their address can now see that they have a tabby who likes to sit in the window. I say, big deal. Anyone who walks by my actual house can see in the windows, and if people mean me harm I think I have more to fear from the ones on the street in front of the house than someone 500 miles away on the internet. It's not like it's difficult to locate people now without Google Street View. Clearly, the wicked cool benefits outweigh any possible negatives.

Plus, how much fun is it to wander around the virtual streets and point out all the cool things you find?

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