An interesting bit of German scenery from Google Maps, if you go forward one step, you go suddenly from a summer view:
To a Stark-cold winter one:
This serendipitous discovery (more discussion at Reddit) brought delight.
So imagine for some reason that you wanted to know if tourists really rode horse-drawn “carriages” through central park. Google Maps with a new Street View option lets you do just that, and even hyperlink it:
I was wondering when the footage of the streets was taken, so I decided to look for signs in Times Square. I found a tickertape that read Aaron Carter Breaks Off…, a piece of news that came out on 9/25/2006, or almost exactly 9 months ago. Their data supplier is quite old!
TechCrunch reports that Immersive Media is Google’s provider, while BoingBoing hilights privacy concerns, some of which are real. For example, would you want a truck taking pictures of you while sunbathing?
Perhaps, perhaps not. When these photos become high-resolution, and closer to real time, with a viewable history, then the privacy angle will become more important. Here’s a page on Immersive Media and their weird, but cool, 360 cameras. They claim to have “40,000 miles of storefront images for 25 cities.”
James Kim, missing with his family in Oregon, has been found dead. In a heroic effort to find help for his family, he set out on foot and died from weather and the elements after an unsuccessful rescue attempt.
The route the Kim family took was allegedly from Google Maps. It took them down Bear Camp Road (BLM-34-8-36), a logging road that Wired describes as “not suitable for most vehicles and is CLOSED for all traffic during the winter. The road is not maintained, has no dividing line for oncoming traffic, is littered with potholes, and is impenetrable during the winter due to snow.”
Mathew Ingram suggests we don’t blame Google, but I think that’s exactly what we should do. The Google Maps terms of service say that Google Maps is intended for planning trips:
Map information provided through Google is intended for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic conditions or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results.
What it fails to mention is that road conditions may differ to the point of putting yourself in mortal danger. If Google Maps gave me a route from NYC to Toronto that involved driving off the Niagara Falls, would I or Google be to blame for my death? A more subtle example–If Google Maps gave me a route from NYC to Toronto that involved driving across dangerous terrain, an off road shortcut, would Google be in any way responsible for injury I sustained by taking that less optimal route? Legally, I think so.