Google Street View is one of my favourite tools on the internet and, as someone caught in a compromise between wanderlust and laziness, I find dragging Pegman onto streets all over the world strangely addictive.
What’s more, it seems like every time I go on it, there’s even more to see and do. As this Wikipedia page shows, Street View made its 213th update on Wednesday, now allowing you to venture into an active Vanuatuan volcano from the comfort of your computer screen. You can plonk yourself on just about any street in the UK and indeed most of Europe (although privacy-sensitive Germany remains comparatively sparsely represented), and countries like the USA, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Africa are all just about entirely covered too.
Last month alone saw updates in areas as far and wide as Greenland, Senegal and Mongolia, and Street View now has at least some coverage in 162 countries or territories around the world, although in many cases this is limited to ‘Business Views’.
All things considered, it’s not that unlikely that you could be lurking somewhere on these panoramic representations of Google’s multinational odyssey. If so, where do you think you would be most likely to be found?
You may have an inkling that you appear, or will soon appear, on Street View because you saw a Google Maps Camera Car drive past while you were out and about. Emblazoned with the company name and cartographical images, and with a high-tech camera mounted on their rooves, these vehicles are pretty unmistakable.
I’m guessing that one person who might have noticed one of Google’s cars is this excitable chap I stumbled upon outside the Iceland store on Borough Road, Birkenhead. Either that, or he’s just so delighted to have bought 24 fish fingers for a pound that he just had to celebrate.
This Reddit user is another individual who seems to have decided to pose for Google’s cameras, not even letting control of a motorbike get in the way of an opportunity to milk the moment.
Some people have been caught on Street View cameras to their detriment, like the Middlesbrough shoplifter who was identified and apprehended after a Google Maps user saw her being chased by a store assistant. In Canada, a woman was so unhappy with the way she appeared on Street View that she successfully managed to sue the search engine giant.
A story of serendipity did the rounds last month, as The Metro, Daily Mail and Mirror all picked up on the strange case of a man agreeing to meet a friend on a street corner, heading onto Google Street View to check the location and finding his friend captured by the cameras in the very spot they had agreed upon.
However, given that this spot was outside the woman’s workplace, is this really as freakish as the reporters were making out? Perhaps it’s more of a reminder that although the world is big, we spend much of our lives moving in the same small circles. If we do spot ourselves on Street View, it will most likely be in one of those places we visit almost every day.