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Google Street View: bringing the world closer together

We often hear about how technology leads to alienation, hampers personal, real-life relations and ultimately cuts us off from reality. But technology, like any tool, is just what you use it for, and I'm more often struck by how it helps me stay in touch with near and dear ones no matter the geographical distance.

Only yesterday I was looking through some of all my unread RSS-feeds and came across this touching blog post from Kaz, a former flatmate of mine. We have both moved away from London - she to France, me to Norway - and haven't seen each other for many years, but we stay in touch on Facebook, and I read her blog.

But back to that blogpost: she describes her relationship with an old and lonely neighbour of hers when she had her own flat in England (I can't quite remember the name of the place now, but it was past Loughton on the Central line, so we're probably talking Essex). This man was always very helpful to her while she lived there, probably because she "saw" him, and she had found herself wondering how he was doing in the years since she moved away. Then her husband recently spotted a figure on Google Street View in that very same area she used to live, and Kaz thought it must be him getting on with his life. It may or may not have been,  but it's a touching thought. Now, if he only he was on Facebook...

Update 19/03-2010 09:30 CET: On the other hand, would I have been happy to find myself on Google Street View without any prior knowledge (or consent)? Probably not, it would give me a queasy "big brother is watching you" kinda feeling. I much prefer to be able to choose whether or not I want to sign up for that visibility myself.


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