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Topic Title: E&T Magazine - Debate - Is Google Street View really giving us a better view of the world?
Topic Summary: Google’s online geographic systems are really helping the way we see the world
Created On: 19 September 2012 10:57 AM
Status: Read Only
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 19 September 2012 10:57 AM
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jpwilson

Posts: 68
Joined: 16 May 2007

For:
Google's online geographic systems are really helping the way we see the world

Against:
Google's online geographic systems are not really helping the way we see the world

The argument for:
I've been with the Royal Geographical Society for more than 35 years and when I first started working here, helping to support remote field research projects, the only mapping available was in paper format. Often these maps could only be bought 'in country' and would have strict security conditions attached to them. Today it's different and we're all geographers, largely because we're able to make use of online geospatial data mapping and photographic technologies. And the great thing is, we don't have to be map-readers. We can look at Google's Street View for a virtual representation of places. This curiosity can lead us from being a desktop explorer or an armchair traveller to enabling us to move between different types of imagery that can help us interpret what we are seeing.

The argument against:
When companies publicise their good works, it's often worth having a closer look at why they are so keen to make a splash. This is going to seem churlish given what visual mapping can potentially do. But Google's Street View smacks of geeky tokenism down to the cheeky little penguin you move along a fixed path across a small outlying island of Antarctica. Street View, as implemented today, is a snapshot. A guided tour of a location where you are not allowed to step off the yellow brick road. You can peer into Shackleton's Hut, using the view presented by a panoramic camera to at least get a sense of the space. But the visual distortion presented by these wide-angle lenses does little to help provide a sense of real space. The user is entirely reliant on visual cues to get information that would instantly click into place if one were there in real life. Because the user's viewpoint is from a fixed point, with limited ability to zoom, the vital visual data that we use everyday is missing. The question is: is this better today than a set of well-shot photographs that are designed to show the space and its relationship to the outside world?
 20 September 2012 09:54 AM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Originally posted by: jpwilson
The question is: is this better today than a set of well-shot photographs that are designed to show the space and its relationship to the outside world?

What an odd argument. No it isn't better, it's different.
Google Street View is one of the very few tools that I find genuinly useful on the web (i.e. that I go back to time and again). I have a pretty good photographic memory, so if I'm going somewhere I haven't been before, travelling key parts of the route on Street View first means I know exactly where I'm going: or I use it to show others routes. But if I want to look at Shackleton's hut then yes, I would look for photos - although actually I would may use Street View to put it in context.

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 01 October 2012 06:41 AM
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podge01

Posts: 1
Joined: 01 October 2012

I have been using Google street view for a while now and really enjoy looking at places using street view. I do worry about privacy and people with criminal intent using these types of tools. A question i would ask. Will it change mapping forever? Will paper maps disappear forever? If they did, that would be sad. People who are incapacitated and who don't get an opportunity to explore places for real can enjoy using street view to give them a better perspective other than just looking at a photo.

I agree it isn't better but it is different.
 04 October 2012 03:27 PM
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breynolds

Posts: 26
Joined: 16 January 2002

I would even go further than Andy Millar and say it is better and different. Chris Edwards chose to base much of his criticism on the presentation of static photos, and the lack of a sense of space. That largely ignores the primary features of Streetview, with the ability to undertake a full 360 degree view, to zoom at leisure, and to have the most striking sense of space and perspective if you turn the 3D view ON and invest 20p in a pair of anaglyph glasses (right click will get you there Chris, and ebay for the glasses !). And to have the sense of wandering around in historical sites, far better to go to Pompeii here than Scott's or Shackleton's Hut.
I consider all of Google online geographic systems to be some of the best tools on the web, and use them with more confidence than I do the satnav!

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Barrie Reynolds CEng MIET
Functional Safety TAP member
Chairman BSI GEL65/1 responsible for IEC 61508 and IEC 61511 in UK
 04 March 2013 09:01 AM
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DanielJon

Posts: 14
Joined: 26 February 2013

I agree that googles' geographic services are not providing us 100% of what we can see but still it is the best that we have at present.

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Daniel Jones
http://www.kiwitech.com
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