Stowaway

on 11 September 2008 at about 19:56

Homo Googlens

[Cross-posted at CEMP]

Google's 10th birthday recently slipped quietly by with little remark. Yes, it really only is ten years since this ancient-looking web-page began its journey to world domination. Google is our eye on the world, our gateway to information, our arbiter of truth, our panopticon, and our new homunculus, the hidden shaper of our every thought.

Google in Space

If you think my hyperbole is misplaced, consider the fact that Google are now in space. The satellite GeoEye-1 captures high-res images of the earth whose resolution is second only to military satellites. GeoEye-1 carries Google's logo and they have an exclusive deal to use the images for online mapping. This is perhaps not a big deal. But, as an eloquent commenter on Slashdot put it,

If there is something to fear from Google Maps/Earth, it's the spatial imagery mono-culture developing around consumer and media GIS applications. Google's approach is by no means the best approach for all geospatial data, it just happens to work well for navigating large data sets. But, as we've learned from Microsoft, if enough people are using a solution, the level of technology present in dominant solution becomes the "state-of-the-art" even if it isn't.

For those who do want their conspiracy theories a little meatier than simply worrying about the remaking of the world through a Google lens, there is always the fact that Google can recognise you from your shadow.

Google Street

Well - is there a mono-culture developing, and why might that not be desirable? Take Google Street View (and check out the happy San Fransisco intro). We can't blame Google for the visual tyranny of the culture we live in, but we might start to wonder what Street View is even for - not that anything has to have purpose. But as the Slashdot commenter notes, we go with what is available, rather than what might be ideal. So when Penguin commissions an adaptation of Buchan's The 39 Steps, the medium chosen is the Google Map. The available technologies become the site for play and production as in this fun piece of video playing with the idea of Google facilitated surveillance by The Vacationeers.

So much for the fun stuff; what about the cons? Google have apparently claimed that privacy no longer exists - though this apocalyptic claim has run aground in the UK, where the law has meant that an eery face-blurring has had to be introduced to the street-level imagery. And in Japan, the very notion of reproducing the intimacy of street level life onto a globally accessible platform is culturally problematic. Osamu Higuchi wrote an open letter, describing the cultural attitudes to housing and the street-level facade in Japan:

When we walk along an alleyway like that, we don't stare at and scrutinize the houses along the way. If you look away [from the road] even a little bit, you find someone's living space literally right in front of your nose. It is for this reason, I think, that we have this awareness that peeping at these kinds of places is something that is actually quite rude.

The Google Web

The mono-culture aspirations of Google are now turning to the web, as they launch their own browser, Chrome. Google openly intend to influence the evolution of the web as a platform for web-apps, where a lightning fast Javascript engine can run all your online productivity needs. When Google was born, the web was populated by pages that were under construction, backgrounds tiled with animated fractals and page creators recommended you use use Netscape Gold - or new kid on the block, Netscape Communicator - to best view the site. Now we can look back with nostalgia at the heady debates about whether to allows images into a web page. A Chrome web demands that you stop surfing and start working. The Chrome web will be built not by dabblers and people at the fringe, but by expert computer scientists manipulating DOMs in virtual machines. Fast, clean, small, lightweight, easy to maintain. Google is bringing us the browser on cocaine, the web by an anodyne Ballard.

The Google Truth

So much for the Google habit; but is there rehabilitation? Once we get a taste for the world according to Google how can we ever go back? I Googled as I collated some of the stories linked here. I used Google mail to transfer my draft to another computer. I spent the summer learning to see through the Google Maps API. I inwardly applaud as I learn that Google plans to equip the developing world with broadband infrastructure. I turn over the niceties of Google's experiments with crowdsourced pageranks. My eyes widen as I see satire become reality in the form of a Google fleet. I wonder if perhaps a image-cloned birds-eye-view of the world isn't perhaps a more attractive one. I give everything I do to Google. I await with anticipation for Google search to be my best friend - search and ye shall find. And finally, ultimately, the word of Google shall be the truth.

May Google bring me readers.

Archive

  • The Power of Maps (26 August 2015)
  • Gaps in the digital fossil record (5 August 2015)
  • 'feedparser.py', Kurt McKee & Mark Pilgrim (11 May 2013)
  • 'Better Stakeholder Interviews', Chris Cashdollar, Happy Cog (10 May 2013)
  • Wordpress, menus and Suhosin (28 June 2011)
  • More on storing directions for google maps (9 May 2011)
  • Profile (7 May 2011)
  • GMaps and storing directions (6 May 2011)
  • gibbetware (14 July 2010)
  • fibbitware (13 July 2010)
  • some notes on sound (24 August 2009)
  • Hauntology: Intellectual development #1 (16 June 2009)
  • hauntology (19 May 2009)
  • On Atavism and Enlightenment (10 November 2008)
  • land's end closed bridge danger - [Flickr:Places-And-Non-Places] (11 September 2008)
  • Homo Googlens (11 September 2008)
  • land's end vacant picnic tables - [Flickr:Places-And-Non-Places] (11 September 2008)
  • land's end facade - [Flickr:Places-And-Non-Places] (9 September 2008)
  • land's end private welcome - [Flickr:Places-And-Non-Places] (9 September 2008)
  • beach at night - [Flickr:Places-And-Non-Places] (24 July 2008)
  • Pixel Pier (30 May 2008)
  • housman (30 May 2008)
  • Pixel Pier: BAIMP Grad Show 08 (26 May 2008)
  • Arcade - [Flickr:Places-And-Non-Places] (20 May 2008)
  • Atrium - [Flickr:Places-And-Non-Places] (18 May 2008)
  • Seats - [Flickr:Places-And-Non-Places] (18 May 2008)
  • Places and non-places (15 May 2008)
  • Pythonesque (5 May 2008)
  • Open Flash (30 April 2008)
  • Facebook Facework (27 April 2008)
  • Pixelate the world (23 April 2008)
  • Phenomenology, positivism, and prozac (19 March 2008)
  • Hello world, my imagination (15 March 2008)
  • Community of Scholarly Practice (14 March 2008)
  • Inflexible structures (29 February 2008)
  • Flexible structures (28 February 2008)
  • Foucauldian Confession (20 February 2008)
  • The Writerly Text: Part 1 (1 February 2008)
  • Musings on Plagiarism (6 November 2007)
  • Emancipatory Power of Online Spaces (20 October 2007)
  • Splat Pedagogy (12 July 2007)
  • New Blood awards for Media School finalists (29 June 2007)
  • iheartplay: BAIMP Grad Show (6 June 2007)
  • BBC still innovative, says Highfield (16 May 2007)
  • Transmediale.07, Berlin (6 February 2007)
  • Vive la revolution! (30 January 2007)
  • Vive la Revolution (30 January 2007)
  • Biblipedia beta site (27 January 2007)
  • Fornicate with your actual genitals (27 January 2007)
  • Fornicate with your actual genitals (23 January 2007)
  • Awesome 2007 (16 January 2007)
  • Awesome 2007 (16 January 2007)
  • The Paedo-net (11 December 2006)
  • unprofessional and without redress (4 December 2006)
  • unprofessional and without redress (4 December 2006)
  • Smartlynchmobs (27 November 2006)
  • Smartlynchmobs (27 November 2006)
  • This blog will fuel a crisis in politics (20 November 2006)
  • I am in ur website, writin ur nooz (13 November 2006)
  • I am in ur website, writin ur nooz (13 November 2006)
  • myNews (30 October 2006)
  • newsTube (22 October 2006)
  • GooNews (15 October 2006)
  • GooNews (15 October 2006)
  • Satan (Democrat - Florida) (9 October 2006)
  • The CEMPle News Project (8 October 2006)
  • newsPod (2 October 2006)
  • newsPod (1 October 2006)
  • The experimental wing of political philosophy (19 May 2006)
  • Hobbes and Rousseau and Digital Media (19 May 2006)
  • We Media and the great blogging hoax (3 May 2006)
  • Don Chihuahua (30 April 2006)
  • No Fact Zone (30 April 2006)
  • Beeb and us (25 April 2006)
  • My Virtual Money (25 April 2006)
  • SOA (6 April 2006)
  • postel's law and nicotine (30 March 2006)
  • This week: Retro Contrafabulation (26 March 2006)
  • Biblipedia consultation (22 March 2006)
  • This week: The Machine Gun of Reasoned Discussion (18 March 2006)
  • This week: Noah, the Logo Weenie (3 March 2006)
  • stowaway music update (27 February 2006)
  • This week: newsr (24 February 2006)
  • This week: There's More Than One Way to Eat a News (17 February 2006)
  • Web 2.0 is the new Marxism (16 February 2006)
  • Biblipedia Vision and Scope document (12 February 2006)
  • macs, samba and XP (11 February 2006)
  • This week: reintermediate leading-edge eyeballs (10 February 2006)
  • Blog aggregator (10 February 2006)
  • Biblipedia scope (8 February 2006)
  • This week: newsCoat (3 February 2006)
  • This week: xoxbox (27 January 2006)
  • User-contributed content and quality (23 January 2006)
  • Folksonomies and collaborative organisation (23 January 2006)
  • Annotatable Audio (23 January 2006)
  • SCORM (17 December 2005)
  • Edition disambiguation (17 December 2005)
  • Plagiarism issues (17 December 2005)
  • MAG Consultation (17 December 2005)
  • COPAC (17 December 2005)
  • CathBond.com design (12 December 2005)
  • Biblipedia Protoype (10 December 2005)
  • Bibliographical data integration (4 December 2005)
  • Biblipedia project updates (4 December 2005)
  • Social bibliography tool (27 November 2005)
  • Biblipedia (19 November 2005)
  • Welcome (18 November 2005)
  • Menticulture (30 May 2005)
  • okay, so no post for 3 years (5 April 2005)
  • New Documentary Media (27 October 2004)
  • LCF Multimedia Option Exhibition 04 (28 June 2004)
  • Room (4 August 2003)
  • 3D Solar System - part II (8 July 2003)
  • LCF Multimedia Option Exhibition 03 (19 June 2003)
  • Total Theatre Workshop Company (24 May 2003)
  • Horse (21 December 2002)
  • Dancing Joe (11 October 2002)
  • The Buroughs cut technique (11 October 2002)
  • Nature Girl (5 September 2002)
  • Villainess (11 August 2002)
  • LCF Multimedia Option Exhibition 02 (27 June 2002)
  • Cleggan Bay (13 June 2002)
  • Hierarchical Menu (2 June 2002)
  • threeDworld (25 May 2002)
  • Jack and the Polar Bear (22 May 2002)
  • Lough Corrib (17 May 2002)
  • This whole website is superb, as is the article ... (30 April 2002)
  • Another prolonged absence, I'm afraid (28 April 2002)
  • Sunset (9 April 2002)
  • Tapioca Balls (8 March 2002)
  • Dunguire Boat (6 March 2002)
  • bet you didn't know that road signs are also ... (20 February 2002)
  • 3D Solar System (9 February 2002)
  • Songs For Andrew (30 December 2001)
  • Dreamweaver Tutorial (8 October 2001)
  • Why blog the events unfolding in America myself ... (13 September 2001)
  • Well thanks to the pages of The Guardian's ... (29 August 2001)
  • Very pretty pictures of space ;) (15 August 2001)
  • Very cool stuff from FFF (8 August 2001)
  • I have to say I thoroughly approve of this ;) (7 August 2001)
  • "I made you some coffee" (26 July 2001)
  • LCP - Intro to web design (10 July 2001)
  • This has got to be one of the most wonderful ... (5 July 2001)
  • What more can you ask for than a site which links ... (4 July 2001)
  • Well, now I've become a late Flash convert (23 June 2001)
  • LCF Multimedia Option Exhibition (15 June 2001)
  • Sourced from the pages of the somewhat poncey web ... (13 June 2001)
  • Fucking superb (16 May 2001)
  • Okay the fight link listed below has disappeared ... (2 May 2001)
  • Okay (30 April 2001)
  • Sites like this almost make you want to pack up ... (15 April 2001)
  • Most amusing from the halfbakery (5 April 2001)
  • This is another cute site (16 March 2001)
  • I've no idea why, but I guess it's time to ... (16 March 2001)
  • Absolutelely fascinating article by Jon Ronson ... (10 March 2001)
  • Very, very groovy site playing with Shockwave toys (16 February 2001)
  • From Gilbert and George's site (16 February 2001)
  • Well hello February (16 February 2001)
  • This is a cute site with early photos capturing ... (8 February 2001)
  • Okay (5 January 2001)
  • Mmmm (14 December 2000)
  • "This is ridiculous" ... (14 December 2000)
  • Okay, suffice to say I bottled my prank at the end ... (11 December 2000)
  • Incidentally, this is the unspeakably shite ... (10 December 2000)
  • Ahh, Sunday afternoons (10 December 2000)
  • The new release of Netscape 6 is so much better ... (7 December 2000)
  • new life on Mars ... (7 December 2000)
  • Time for some geek links (7 December 2000)
  • Now this is a stowaway kind of site (30 November 2000)
  • This is where I work (30 November 2000)
  • EEEuuuuwwwrrrgggghhh (29 November 2000)
  • My absence has been due to my uncle Fred dying (28 November 2000)
  • Actually, the tribune page below is only cool in ... (28 November 2000)
  • Okay I have to agree with tom@plasticbag (23 November 2000)
  • An old joke but a good one, Ben (22 November 2000)
  • hey its turning into a good day for homepages (20 November 2000)
  • Absolutely superb website (20 November 2000)
  • And while I'm on it, wasn't 4AD the best ... (19 November 2000)
  • Recently rediscovered Throwing Muses after leaving ... (19 November 2000)
  • Went to see Simon Russell Beale in Hamlet at the ... (19 November 2000)
  • Many thanks to Peter who brought Untitled Document ... (17 November 2000)
  • It's been a good 24 hours for amazing natural ... (16 November 2000)
  • Oh God I'm disappearing under a mountain of ... (14 November 2000)
  • Now, I'm not a war kind of person (11 November 2000)
  • Laugh? I nearly lost it at a site I found while ... (10 November 2000)
  • Good grief ... (10 November 2000)
  • it has to be /usr/bin/girl that gets the ... (4 November 2000)
  • ok, so now i've got the damn thing running (4 November 2000)
  • So, if you're wondering how (31 October 2000)
  • Huzzah!! The next / previous tags are working!!! (31 October 2000)
  • Oh, and if you're still looking at ~/index (27 October 2000)
  • Okay, so this is number 13, and we're only ... (27 October 2000)
  • ummm (27 October 2000)
  • Now, this is number eleven (23 October 2000)
  • Okay, this is entry 10 (23 October 2000)
  • etc (23 October 2000)
  • This, of course, will be entry number 5 (23 October 2000)
  • This is entry four in the stowaway blog database (23 October 2000)
  • This is entry three in the stowaway blog database (13 October 2000)
  • This is entry two in the stowaway blog database (13 October 2000)
  • This is entry one in the stowaway blog database (13 October 2000)
  • Small Print

    Joe Flintham 2000 - 2015

    Long form: Menticulture

    Professional Services: Fathom Point