Inappropriate sharing, incomprehensible ramblings, uncalled-for hostility: yup, it's a blog.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The virtual drive

A friend from Alabama sent me a link earlier. Apparently, Florence, AL, is now in street view on Google maps. Here's a taste.

An hour or so after sending me the link, after I'd gotten back from walking the dog and doing dishes, my friend IM'd, "You still DRIVING around Florence?" as if my failure to reply meant I was caught up with the Google street view of Florence, AL. I closed the chat box. I didn't know how to respond.

There's not much to say about Florence. As a place, Florence is just kind of there, floating indifferently in the latitude and longitude of Google maps, plodding along through time, resigned to the fact that parts of itself are "unavailable at this zoom level."

So many places are, though. Unavailable at this zoom level. Some places just have to be mapped out alone.

Maybe I should've told my friend that not all things can be mapped by Google.

Or maybe I should've said that the street view of Florence was depressingly accurate. I could only go forward or backward, left or right. I could only move at right angles. No chance to veer off into unexplored territory.

Or maybe I should've said that the street view missed a lot of places. The view of the street was unrelenting. This is where we were, and then this is where we were, and then this is where we were. No context. Just images of points on a map which happen to be of my hometown.

There's a lot of stuff in Florence to map, but Google will never manage to do it. It's the same here in NY--Google might map the streets around Union Square Park, but it'll never drive into the park the day Greg kissed me on the bench beside the orange flowers. Because I'm a sucker for romance, and the flowers were exploding, and the sun was at the perfect angle, and, you know, how can you possibly map that sort of thing?

So maybe I should've said, it's nice to "drive" on Google, but it's best to be there. Wherever 'there' is.

4 comments:

Laura D said...

So weird.

Matt Osborne said...

Mike, that's a good piece. It's very "This American Life."

Matt Osborne said...

Jeebus, did I call you "Mike?" Dammitall, I've been dealing with Mikes all day and now I have them on my effing brain.

MARC...sorry.

I came back to reread this. If you were to expand a bit on the "memories" at the end, I seriously think you'd have a perfect piece to send Ira Glass.

MM said...

Mike, Marc, it's all the same. I'll answer to Slartibartfast if I'm getting a compliment :)

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