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  1.  (614.1)
    Digital Urban is a site dedicated to the science of creating more and more realistic models of cities.

    Combining applications like Google Earth with things like the Crysis game engine you get some amazing results.

    A tour of London by helicopter


    Even more impressive is "Automatic Architecture" which takes data from city models and automatically creates textured 3d models.

    Pompeii reborn in digital

    Comb through the site a bit and you'll find some amazing work being done to create living maps, digital shadows for cities and the next generation of visual representations. Beautiful too.
  2.  (614.2)
    Microsoft's version of Google Earth, Virtual Earth, is looking very impressive too. They're taking a slightly different approach, in that they're riding through cities in kitted out vans, recording the surroundings at all angles and making composites from that. Apparently they're planning on making it interactive in the sense that, say, if you fly over to Saks or whatever, you will be able to go in and buy stuff online via the digital version of the store. But, y'know, it's Microsoft...
  3.  (614.3)
    it'll be like second life, in real life...
  4.  (614.4)
    I do not like seeing fucking vans driving through Bay Area streets taking pictures of every fucking thing moving around outside. I'm waiting for the day when people catch on that this isn't cute and convenient mapmaking, but another form of surveillance, and they start mobbing, upending and burning those fucking photo trucks. I, for one, will be there with marshmallows and hot dogs on sticks, cooking them in the tasty gasoline flames.
  5.  (614.5)
    Kadrey- I believe I heard something a while back about complaints over what was being photographed (including people picking their noses, make out sessions and whatnot). It might've been another project, though- i don't have links offhand.
    •  
      CommentAuthorZ
    • CommentTimeJan 24th 2008
     (614.6)
    @Kadrey, & @Roo

    <a href="http://thedistrictweekly.com/print/features/2008/01/02/your-friends-and-neighbors/">Couple of quotes</a> on Google Street View:
    <blockquote>
    Google Street View, I tried to make it work, really I did. When the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/01/technology/01private.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss">privacy advocate in San Francisco</a> (whose house you depicted so clearly you could see her cat, remember?) went on TV and bashed you, I defended you in philosophical arguments with my friends—about how you’d make it easier to get directions and to relive road trips. But then you came to Long Beach, to my home town, and now . . . well, now I’m a little weirded out. Is it because I can easily look up a street-level photo of my girlfriend’s place of employment and see her car parked out front? [..] Well, frankly . . . yeah. [..] I used to think you were exciting and unique, Google Street View, but the closer we’ve gotten, the creepier you’ve become, and at this point, honestly, I think it’s better if I just go back to MapQuest. </blockquote>

    <blockquote>“I think that this product illustrates a tension between our First Amendment right to document public spaces around us, and the privacy interests people have as they go about their day,” said Kevin Bankston, a staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group. Mr. Bankston said Google could have avoided privacy concerns by blurring people’s faces.</blockquote>

    - Z
  6.  (614.7)
    Said with no value judgment, just as a comparison.

    In my last year as an undergrad, way back in 1999 now, I took my required course in computerization and society. We were having round table discussions on the internet and privacy and I presented something which shocked the room at that time. The idea of the information I brought with me worried the professor in its implications and the students who had not previously seen such a thing were very bothered as well.

    I had printed out detailed directions from the class room to the professor's home right before class via a quick computer search.
    •  
      CommentAuthorpKone
    • CommentTimeJan 24th 2008
     (614.8)
    complaints over what was being photographed (including people picking their noses, make out sessions and whatnot)

    Remember if you are not in your own home with all the curtains drawn, you have NO expectation of privacy. Anyone can observe and photograph as long as they do not physically tresspass.... just ask any celebrity! ; )
  7.  (614.9)
    >you have NO expectation of privacy.
    That's not true. There are plenty of instances of regular people winning judgments against publications that carried their image when there was no "legitimate news interest to the public".

    There's a difference between being observed and being published. "Ask any celebrity" is a glib and misleading statement since public figures fall under a different precedent than ordinary people. I'm a photographer who sells his work to various places. If I get your face in my street shot, I need to get you to sign a model release or I can't publish the shot. The only way around this is by blurring or Photoshoping you out of the image completely. Why doesn't Google, as a profit-making coporation, have to follow the same rules?

    And I'm sick of the smug attitude taken by a lot techie types that it's the problem of individuals and their responsibility to avoid invasive surveillance. It's a bullshit argument that the value of a shot of my front door is more important than my right to be able to enter and exit my home without every asshole on the planet with Google connection watching me.
    • CommentAuthorjmarquiso
    • CommentTimeJan 24th 2008
     (614.10)
    Well, first, it's not a live shot. Even the sattelite photos for the maps are quite a few months out of date.

    Second, there is a service in the public interest, the neighborhood shot. It gives us a good idea of the neighborhood.

    Still, it doesn't mean that some don't have a legitimate gripe. Just hide from the google van.

    -J
  8.  (614.11)
    >Just hide from the google van.
    Again, it becomes the responsibility of the poor slob standing on the street to hide from the roving electronic eye.

    >It gives us a good idea of the neighborhood.
    So, vague curiosity now counts as the "public good"?
  9.  (614.12)
    I agree with Kadrey on the google vans. Playing with the 3D feature I found my house and was even able to see my holiday decorations. I didn't think it was cool, I thought it was creepy as hell. Because right now I can just see a picture of the front of my home from the holidays, 5 years out could that picture be a live feed from anyone of the dozens (hundreds?) of video cameras in my neighborhood.

    I see 3d mapping tech as a benefit from an urban planning and historical perspective. A professor of mine had a rendered model done of part Florence, made from drawings, diagrams and accounts. It gave amazing insight into how the spaces felt in real space, though many of them had been dust for centuries. It can give insights into Being able to use super accurate city models to plan streets and development could save time, money and even lives.

    That said, for most of human history map-making was a largely military exercise. After all, who needs a map more?
  10.  (614.13)
    So, vague curiosity now counts as the "public good"?

    One of my favorte of Ellis books, "Mek", has a guy who has status as a "ghost". From what I gather in the book, it's someone who has managed to expunge themselves from the surveillance/info-gathering culture.

    I think once my generation (20 something myspacers) sees all this eye in the sky tech turned on them a bit more being a "ghost" will be very sought after.

    Putting the impetus on the average person to protect themselves from the average person.
    •  
      CommentAuthorVEPS
    • CommentTimeJan 24th 2008 edited
     (614.14)
    Working with street and network maps for a telecommunications company, I can tell you most mapping systems have conflicts and innaccuracies.
    Google's probably trying to get their accuracy dead on, unlike the x other online and government mapping systems.

    Believe this if you want, but the main reason why they need to know where everything is if your house catches on fire or you have a heart attack, is so emergency services get to the right property.
  11.  (614.15)
    >they need to know where everything is if your house catches
    >on fire or you have a heart attack, is so emergency services
    >get to the right property.
    That is such shit, and it sounds exactly like the logic the Bush administration is using to justify this new telecom bugging bill and every other attempt to wear away the Bill of Rights. Thanks for protecting us to death.
  12.  (614.16)

    Believe this if you want, but the main reason why they need to know where everything is if your house catches on fire or you have a heart attack, is so emergency services get to the right property.


    That logic doesn't parse. If your house is on fire the fire department has recieved notification somehow (whether by person or automatic alarm) and most fire stations only cover a limited area. I can't recall many cases of firefighters getting lost or turned about. If you can even get within a few blocks you can usually follow the smoke

    As for medical emergencies, from what I understand the most common problems for EMT isn't finding the building, it's getting access or navigating inside. 100+ unit apartment blocks with only stairs and nil information on the mailboxes are more of a danger to coronary victims than faulty GPS.

    It's a far cry from accurately mapping cities like London and Boston (with their streets built for horse traffic or to repel invaders) to allowing yourself to be scroogled by the camera van. You can make maps better without taking away people's right to live in peace.
    • CommentAuthoreggzoomin
    • CommentTimeJan 24th 2008
     (614.17)
    Am I correct in thinking that large amounts of Google Earth has been composed of images purchased from the military that were a few years old? (so you can see planes and stuff on bases, but they're not there any more) My point being that the military already had the images, whether that bothers you or not...
  13.  (614.18)
    The interesting thing here for me, is not the existence of the thing, but the combinations and access provided by the developments of new tools.

    I can walk outside my apartment and people watch all day, looking at them go in and out of their homes. I could place a security camera on my window and do the same, and then run a feed of it online. A thousand such cameras linked together could show lots of people doing lots of things. But it is chaos and while it might upset someone, well, it is still chaos.

    But then add a search methodology. Its the ability to store and sort, not the ability to film, which changes things here.
  14.  (614.19)
    >Its the ability to store and sort, not the ability to film, which changes things here.
    It's both, actually. One has no purpose without the other.
  15.  (614.20)
    This seems to be a likely future reality. First there were cameras watching places of interest (ATMs, Banks, offices) then cameras watching traffic lights. And as noted, the government has possessed an even higher level of surveillance tech for years if not decades. I was amazed the first time I saw MapQuest's street level satellite picture. There will probably be back and forth discussions about the legality of a private enterprise making this information so readily available, and how this "may" infringe on one's personal domain, but despite our present day wariness this is a very real aspect of our future.

    Look how public our lives already are. Less than a hundred years ago you could be shot just for stepping on another's piece of land. Now we can get directions to their house, print out their phone and email information, and even research the security system they assure you they have by the sign in the front yard.

    Kadrey- With that said there will be boundaries that are pushed, and sometimes pushed to far. That is why it is always best to be speculative and weary of the Man, whoever he may be.

    New meaning to "all the world is a stage." Buy stock in lead blinds and shutters.