Friday, May 23, 2008

No Google Street View for you

Like the Soup Nazi, it would appear that there's the requisite 'soup' and 'no soup for you' with regards to Google Street View's mapped content.

If you haven't seen this, it's Google latest (couple years old) foray into providing 'added value'. The company employs a squadron of vans equipped with a roof-mounted camera to drive almost everywhere and then provide these images on their mapping service, so when you want to map an address, you have the option to actually see what the area looks like: the 'street view' one might say. Clicking on the 'Street View' button brings up blue trails on streets and roads that have been indexed by Google.

It's interesting. If your area has been captured, then someone mapping directions to your house can see what it looks like from the road. I'm sure it makes some people's lives easier, as if you're not a directions-on-paper type person, the visuals fill in the blanks.

How does Google determine which areas are captured? Excellent question. As we see here:
there's a big hole of coverage in parts of Piedmont, Montclair, and Crocker Highlands. Not familiar with Piedmont? It's got stupid money. Huge homes, great schools, embedded (like journalists in Iraq) in Oakland, and it doesn't tolerate all that nonsense that goes down in the adjacent Oaktown streets. The cops shoot at you with platinum bullets. Montclair (the area bisected by Snake and Shepard Canyon) is similar to Piedmont, although it's still technically part of Oakland. Crocker Highlands is another relatively affluent area with gorgeous homes.

Rumor has it that the downtown Montclair village area had a nightclub back in the 80s that was the source for the majority of cocaine for the local yuppies. The area now frequently changes hands and becomes a swanky burger joint or bagel shop every 3 years. I digress.

How did certain parts of Piedmont and Oakland escape the capture?

Google filmed all of Pinehurst Rd in Canyon, but left the 'residential' area alone.In nearby Walnut Creek, there's a similar hole.Almost the entire island of Alameda was left untouched.Was there a request made by the community leaders? A discrete pay-off? Subtle (or not so subtle) legal threats? Montclair is in an elevated location, where the houses are secluded by gorgeous redwoods carpeting the hillside. Maybe the camera on the van can't swivel to get all the non-standard street view perspectives. All of Alameda? Hmmm...

Has anyone ever seen the Google picture van?

It's an elusive creature...fortunately, as the sun sets the vehicle's shadow becomes part of the landscape...keep your eyes open...Coupled with Google Health we should expect some vocal privacy concerns. Kaiser Permanente partnered with Google in order to 'advise' them on HIPAA related concerns.

The new Kaiser Thrive marketing mantra?
  • We believe in instant information
  • We believe that your medical records are great for sponsored listings
  • We believe you can't do shit about us making them available for Google
  • We believe we'll make a great profit from your genetic profile being scanned by the Google AdSense engine
  • We believe that going over budget is the best way to increase profits, since you'll pay for our mistakes
  • We believe we'll thrive on you, the consumer
  • We believe you better pray you stay employed, so we don't have to reject your medical coverage application

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