Wednesday, April 21, 2010

always know exactly where you're going

google announced yesterday that it would be supplementing its popular streetview feature with interior photographs of businesses. streetview already allows users to virtually explore an extensive portion of google maps through panoramic photographs, and the implications of this addition are fascinating. essentially, google maps are inching closer and closer to decreasing the need for actual experience. rather, in recreating, or, hosting manifestations of, increasing amounts of the physical world on the internet, google is enabling a sort of virtual reality that isn't very virtual. why go on vacation when google maps allows you to visit not only the streets of a given locale, but also the businesses that line them? if i recall correctly, traveling without leaving home used to be the tagline of reading...although the idea of the world recreated in exact detail on the internet creeps me out as a standalone idea, i also find it odd in its threats to exploration. i'm not sure how i feel about being able to know EXACTLY where i'm going, especially when it's somewhere i've never been. obviously there are practical applications, and getting lost can be troublesome, but i suppose the need to know our routes with such intimate detail stems from our equally intimate relationships with our technology.

don't think i'm being hypocritical. earlier this semester, i said "ican'tlivewithoutmyiphone," but until the little guy petered out on me a month ago, i didn't fully realize how seriously attached i was. like the increasing enveloping functionality (if that's the appropriate word) of google maps, iphone is a multi-modal piece of equipment able to guide any number of behaviors. was my movement through the world dictated largely by my iphone? possibly, at least on a day-to-day level. since its death, i've had to reconfigure my interactions with my surroundings. i can't look up phone numbers on the fly, imdb people in movies, or look up where the hell i am. my style of texting has changed now that i have to press a bunch of little buttons a bunch of times to make a few words, my email response time has gone from five minutes to three days, and i frequently leave the house dressed inappropriately for the weather. the transition was a little upsetting; i mean, i'm a semi-grown woman, and i figured i should be able to manage without the iphone that had been intravenously interacting with me for nearly three years. life is different when i have to wait around. i'm so impatient when it comes to getting answers, and i wonder how much of that has been developed thanks to its instant availability. lucky for me, i know i'm only on a little break from iphone, and i think that is both discouraging my full adaptation to a non-smart life as well as keeping me from losing it. come june, i will be one happy camper, especially because some idiot (or publicity performing) apple employee left his next generation iphone in a bar in san diego, where it was scooped up and sold to gizmodo for five grand, and promptly photographed and posted all over the internet, and it looks awesome. see, i can have patience now, because i know in june i'll have the newest and best iphone. severing the cord, even briefly, has not helped my dependence upon iphone.

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