Google Street View: A treasure trove of amusement



It is the controversial mapping service that has been greeted with outcry as well as acclaim. It has reignited the privacy debate and has inspired countless blogs reporting the funniest or most bizarre sightings.


Since its UK launch in March, people have explored millions of streets, all on their computer screen, using Google Street View.


Some sectors are impressed with the introduction of Street View. The UK Tourist Board believes it will boost tourism in this country as Britain can ‘showcase’ its attractions. Incidentally, the sun is shining in all the pictures because the cameras, mounted on cars, only work in temperate weather.


The Tate Gallery are also working with Google to integrate images of paintings by Turner and Constable with their famous locations. It will be possible to view the paintings alongside the pictures of the present-day area.


However, many are outraged at the alarmingly detailed images of people, houses and cars that are available for anyone in the world to see. For example, residents of the village of Broughton in Buckinghamshire launched a revolt and have managed to stay off the map. They did this by forming a human chain, which prevented the Google car entering their street.


Many people have been left embarrassed as the cameras have caught customers leaving sex shops, people being sick in the street and women in very low-cut tops and dresses. One woman even phoned divorce lawyers after spotting her husband’s car parked outside another woman’s house.


Drivers of Google cars have not been immune to embarrassment either. One image, captured in Bradford, reveals a driver being pulled over by the police for driving in a bus lane. Another driver was involved in an argument with a local resident who photographed the distinctive vehicle driving through a village in Dorset. Ironically, the driver claimed this was an invasion of his privacy.


Hundreds of users have drawn attention to more light-hearted scenes that have been captured. Top Gear’s the Stig was spied in the window of the BBC offices. Liam Gallagher can also be seen enjoying a drink at a pub in Camden.


Eerie images that appear to include ET and a ghost in Victorian dress have also come to the attention of eagle-eyed users.


Many people also took on the challenge to find Wally, after Google announced that the Where’s Wally character was featured somewhere in the images of the UK. He was eventually found in Putney High Street.


Street View is certainly a new phenomenon. Whether it is being praised or condemned, Google bosses will no doubt be delighted at the attention it is receiving as it is great publicity for the company.

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