Google Maps’ new Street View feature provides a street-level view of buildings, composited from images filmed by camera trucks which have explored and photographed every alley and byway of — for the moment at least — a few major American cities. Street View is an early outrider of a new wave of digital services which take ‘pervasive’ to a new level. Pervasive, or invasive? To Oakland, California resident Mary Kalin-Casey, the sight of her cat Monty peering out her second-story window in the Street View panorama of her apartment block meant that Google had peered a few pixels too far into her private world. According to a New York Times report:
“The issue that I have ultimately is about where you draw the line between taking public photos and zooming in on people’s lives,” Ms. Kalin-Casey said in an interview Thursday on the front steps of the building. “The next step might be seeing books on my shelf. If the government was doing this, people would be outraged.”
Her husband quickly added, “It’s like peeping.”
“Quickly”, one assumes, as the stopwatch is obviously running out on their 15 minutes of zeitgeisty fame.
Concerns about privacy are understandable — but the real issue here is what happens when this information gets mashed up with the rest of the digitally-tagged world-of-tomorrow-afternoon. Close your curtains, hunker down behind the sofa with your cat and laptop, and stay tuned.