25 things week 7: google maps & google earth

I’m feeling cynical.  Maybe it’s what Viktor Mayer-Schönberger has to say about Google (see previous post) but its all-pervasiveness does bother me.  Yes, it’s incredibly useful but I can’t help thinking Google’s take on “don’t be evil” differs from mine.  So don’t forget the alternatives – for example just off the top of my head, AA routefinder for directions/distances, multimap, yell.com.  Spread your internet use around a bit – don’t make it easy for google to have a complete picture of you!

I can see google streetview has its practical uses in direction finding – and for organisations, it could be really powerful.  For example, in my last post we did a lot of work about presenting our service and what you can do with the records and information it holds for those people with basic skills needs (chiefly literacy and numeracy).   One of the practical things was about ensuring people who were less able to read and absorb information (because all their energies were going on trying to figure out what it said) were able to actually find us.  Direction leaflets including images of waymarks helped to signpost visitors inside a comparatively confusing building and helped people get inside our door.  Does streetview allow you to PRINT pictures in hard copy? (our waymark pictures had a member of staff smiling and pointing in them, though – which everyone else except the staff member concerned liked).

However, as you might imagine, I do have privacy concerns – and indeed the personal experience of one of my fellow 25-thingers bears this out.  If I get permission, I’ll post a link to the blog describing this.  UPDATE: permission received: read the story here.

Grumpy Friday afternoon observation:  something I’ve noticed recently with the widespread use of SatNav and similar directional tools is a negative impact on common sense and observation ie general life skills.  Example: if you type my postcode into online maps or a satnav, it centres on a part of a road which is round the corner from my house.  In the last couple of months no fewer than FOUR different delivery people have rung me from the top of my road: they’ve been directed to turn left [into the road] from the road at the postcode “centre”.  But then seeing lower numbers on the houses, they haven’t thought to turn round and follow the numbers as they get higher.  Oh no.  The first instinct has been the satnav is “wrong” – and to phone and ask where the house is.  “Once is funny, twice is silly”** – but four times is bringing out my inner Grumpy Old Woman.

** did anyone else read the Ramona books by Beverley Cleary?


One thought on “25 things week 7: google maps & google earth

  1. Saturday’s Independent included an article by Jerome Taylor about the new iPhone’s mobile advertising platform. Building up a rich picture of data about users’ daily movements provides “a treasure trove to retailers”. An estimated 1 billion advertising opportunities a day – and granular data about purchasing habits/behaviour.

    Here’s the article How Apple’s new iPhone brings Minority Report a step closer to reality – News, Gadgets & Tech – The Independent http://bit.ly/dDdrx7
    and comment from Rhodri Marsden: The software firms are delighted. But Apple’s customers are not – Commentators, Opinion – The Independent http://bit.ly/c9AdYB

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