I've been accessing Google Maps for a few years. Each time I do, I get the voyeuristic feeling that I'm intruding on someone--seeing something that I oughtn't. From my humble vantage point (not being a computer guru nor having state-of-the art equipment), I can only see tiny cars and teeny-tiny figures.
But the power this gives people is unsettling.
If you think you can hide from the all-seeing eye, think again. Taking Route 66 on my way to an ice-skating show at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Virginia, under bridges and along the road, I spied many traffic cameras. The cameras are useful tools that help officials keep track of trouble along the road, and let reporters and commuters immediately get the word out on the slowdowns.
Nonetheless, it creeps me out. It's not because I'm doing anything wrong, nor do I plan to, but just the idea that an unblinking eye can watch me.
Than again, the "I spy" issue isn't just in the sky or under bridges.
If you own a cellphone, you've got a tool that keeps track of what you do. Inside the slender but oh-so-powerful hand-held device is a GPS locator, and a system that keeps track of what you access (shops, restaurants, etc.). Which means every time you hit search button on Google or another search engine, IT knows and remembers.
It's alive, and growing.
In his article "How Google and Apple's digital mapping is mapping us," Oliver Burkemanwarns us, "Google's and Apple's maps might not just observe our lives, but in some sense come to play a role in directing their course."
This isn't to alarm you, but I think that like other things, we ought to consider that tools that Google or other high-tech companies offer come with some strings attached.