Susie Rushton: A timewaster for casual voyeurs

Urban Notebook

Share
Related Topics

The front door of our house, its neglected balcony, the wilting pelargoniums on our neighbour's windowsill. That Ford Ka, badly parked, as usual. A generous sprinkling of dog mess on the pavement: yes, that's all very familiar. This is what my life looks like, according to Google Earth Street View, the latest stalk-a-rama mapping function for stalkers, terrorists and geeks. Tap in my postcode and, I – and anyone else in the world with internet access – can examine my house and street from every angle.

That's only the start. Constructed from a zillion photographs taken at various times of day, the free, 360-degree view programme covers almost all public areas seen from a London road – with the exception of The Mall, the front of the American Embassy and Vogue House, home of Condé Nast magazines (are their pictures still at the retouchers?).

But what's the point of Street View? It's a fun toy (the makers of Where's Wally have already hijacked it) and a cultural watershed (so has the Tate). It means never again saying, "Oh, this doesn't look anything like I'd expected". Most of all, it's a timewaster for casual voyeurs, despite some sensible limitations: faces and registration plates are fuzzed out, and you can only see what happened to be going on in the street at the very moment that Google's camera car cruised past. Outside the tradesman's entrance of The Ivy, the dawn deliveries for lunch service are just arriving; in a different postcode, the sun is setting over the East London Mosque.

But I also notice that Street View is a pre-crunch portrait of London. Most of the photographs appear to have been taken last summer, if you go by the foliage of trees and the skimpy clothes worn by unsuspecting pedestrians – not to mention the ghostly presence of several now-defunct restaurants. Old Bond Street throngs with women laden with shiny designer shopping bags on each arm. Woolworths on Brixton Road is still trading. Shirtsleeved men in the streets around Bank Tube station look like they're walking with a spring, rather than a mortal stagger, in their step. But before nostalgia rushes in, I comfort myself with the thought that even in the last golden days of the boom, dogwalkers on our road didn't pick up their pets' poo.

Men and their menus

Rather than review restaurants, the delightfully sedate style magazine Fantastic Man asks dozens of metropolitan types what, where and with whom they ate supper on a given night. We learn that on 5 February, the playwright Alan Bennett and Rupert Thomas, editor of The World of Interiors, dined at their Camden home on breaded plaice and tartare. Rocker Bryan Adams also cooked at home – a surprisingly ascetic meal of veggie burgers and grapefruit sorbet – but the fashion designer Giles Deacon had to make do with a reheated tray of chicken in vegetable cream sauce on board a BA flight to Milan. And they say glamour is dead.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

European Retail Sales Manager, Consumer Products

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: My client is looking for an...

Sales Director, Media Sponsorship

£60000 - £65000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A globally successful media and ...

Head of Affiliate Sales for Emerging Markets

competitive + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you looking for your next role ...

Brand Engagement Manager - TV

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is your chance to join a gl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: out of time, polling and immigration and old words

John Rentoul
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past