The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

Feet on the ground from far away

This little postlet on a tumblr that hails from Minnesota—


—made me stop and go: A-ha! We all do this now, don’t we?

When I was looking for a new apartment a year and a half ago, there were a couple of days where I spent more time in Google Street View than in, uh, the real street. When I was scouting hotels in Paris last spring, I’d position my little yellow avatar at the front door of, say, the Hotel la Demeure and then take a test stroll. Did the Paris that stretched out there seem fun—or foreboding?

And of course it goes beyond Street View. We’re all satellite analysts now; looking for an apartment, I quickly learned the overhead signature of my favorite kind of street. It’s a certain width, with a certain density of dark-green tree splotches and a certain number of missile silos.

But this is all very pedestratian; very practical. You can also think about Google Street View as a new kind of street photography. Jon Rafman scouts Street View for compelling images—and, wow, he finds them. He writes:

Initially, I was attracted to the noisy amateur aesthetic of the raw images. Street Views evoked an urgency I felt was present in earlier street photography. With its supposedly neutral gaze, the Street View photography had a spontaneous quality unspoiled by the sensitivities or agendas of a human photographer. It was tempting to see the images as a neutral and privileged representation of reality—as though the Street Views, wrenched from any social context other than geospatial contiguity, were able to perform true docu-photography, capturing fragments of reality stripped of all cultural intentions.


Do check out his images if you haven’t seen them already; they’re really stunning. And equally stunning, for me, is the image of Rafman at a computer, clicking through Google Street View—scouting, searching—a step at a time.


Oh, man, I can’t wait until I am 85 and there’s Google archived street view by decade. Can you imagine what it would be like in 2063 to set Google Maps on 2010, and take a stroll down memory lane? A total, imersive Lost Landscapes experience.

The snarkmatrix awaits you

Below, you can use basic HTML tags and/or Markdown syntax.