Island Packet – I feel just awful complaining about the people at Google, because they have single-handedly streamlined, by an incalculably exponential margin, the amount of time I spend looking online for music to steal and pictures of Scarlett Johansson. I feel like I should send them a thankful-tasting pie or something, but I also have in my head that they’re very cool people, and would graciously demur with a tap on the heart and a shake of the head like, no, dude, don’t worry about it, we got you.
So please, Good Nerds of the Google Office, Which I Imagine To Be A Giant Shiny Wind-And-Corn-Oil-Powered Cube Floating Somewhere Near Tahiti, don’t take this personally. I am not upset with you, even though you have insanely awesome jobs, health benefits that I can only dream of (like, for instance, dental), holidays off, ping-pong and pinball tables in your offices, a free in-house gourmet cafeteria and I’m sure some sort of indoor neon go-kart track, with lasers.
But like those of many other residents of the area — except Dick Cheney if he’s around, which wouldn’t surprise me as his aging mechanical exoskeleton is refueled by the sun — my home recently has materialized on Google Street View, an online functionality that offers panoramic 360-degree street mapping (when writing about technology issues, it helps to throw around majestic-sounding buzzwords that make it sound like you are attempting to jam a multitude of bowling pins into your mouth) that allows users to virtual-walk down your virtual-street and see firsthand how little actual attention you’re paying to your actual lawn.
Google Street View, I am told, is extremely useful for directions, route planning and real estate searches; it is probably more useful for stalking exes to make snippy jokes about how badly they need to power-wash their siding and seeing if the neighborhood you plan to move into has any undesirable-looking cars in it.
Google Street View was rolled out first in cities across America with the idea that it would work its way down to smaller towns, so you can forgive me for thinking that it would be several good years before they got to our quiet, shrimpy little seaside hamlet, forgetting, as I did, that in the time it took me to type this sentence, construction began on four new Publixes within 500 yards of each other. I didn’t figure that it would be coming to where I live, so imagine my shock when business reporter Jim Faber came over with a Joker smile on his face and a mighty spring in his step, reporting that despite my best efforts to prevent it, he now knows where I live.
So, fine. The advance of technology certainly has and will continue to result in far worse attacks on my privacy and/or personal information — mostly, apparently, in the form of alerts from PayPal, which has sternly been warning me for years that my account is near termination, which is surprising, since I’ve never had one.
This sounds defeatist, but my sense about such issues has become so passive that I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that Cheney and, somewhere in a men’s barbershop chorus in Missouri, John Ashcroft know that I’ve been checking out “Magic Tree House” books for my son for the past nine months.
All I do now is sigh and pull for karma to do its merry thing. So what are you gonna do, eh? Put my pathetically underlandscaped home online for all to see, Google. On the plus side, maybe I can find places on the island at night now.