Life is full of minor mysteries – things you wonder about but never really take the time to find out about. A perfect example: how does Google get such great pictures of my house when I drill down to street level on Google maps? Surely, they don’t have a car that drives all the streets of every town with a giant 360 degree camera on top.
That is, of course, exactly what they do. I saw it for myself, twice. Once yesterday and again today.
Yesterday, I took the day off to spend a day at Dollywood Theme Park with wife and kid. Ran a few errands first in the morning before leaving. On my way home from the credit union I passed the car with gaudy Google Street View decals wrapped all around and a giant tower with ball sticking up from the roof. I considered, for a moment, turning around and following so I could snap a picture for the blog but decided against since wife and kid were waiting for me to pick them up. Spotting the Google Street View car is, for a nerd, like spotting a unicorn. Will my friends believe me? Will I be able to describe it? Will I ever see it again? Was it only just a dream?
Saw it again this morning. This time I was with a friend. He didn’t seem to share my sense of profound wonder and amazement at this miraculous sighting. For a moment, I questioned my own enthusiasm for this second sighting. Maybe this isn’t such a big deal after all. Maybe nobody else finds it incredible that the most powerful internet company in the world actually sends cars out to drive all the roads and record pictures that are tagged with geo-location data. Who drives these cars? Are they Google employees or local temp hires? Can I get a giant camera mounted to the roof of my car and tag streets while I conduct my daily affairs? Where does that outrageous amount of data get stored? Is there a massive hard drive in the trunk of the car or it is beamed up into The Cloud right away to get digested by the Google server farms? I want to know.
So now, instead of one minor question, I have 5 medium-sized questions that I really want answered. Do me a favor, please. If you see this particular unicorn, please take a picture and, if you get the opportunity, tell the driver I have a few questions I need answered.