Friday 20 March 2009

Google, Google Everywhere

screenshot of enormous caterpillar logo
I love that Google is today celebrating the 40th anniversary of Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar which apparently sells a copy somewhere in the world every 30 seconds.

Today is also the launch of Google's Street View, by which anyone can punch a city post code into Google Maps and see the location in 360 degree photographic views.

The launch of anything that smacks of new technology has of course prompted fear and trembling over issues of privacy, with Google acting quickly to remove objectionable photos. When the service was launched in the US, a new past-time of streetspotting was invented.

The literary possibilities of Google Street View are mind-boggling. Do have a listen to tonight's episode of Front Row (20 March, Friday), the radio arts programme, in which Ian Rankin and Graham Hurley discuss the cons (readers can visit fictional locations and the disconnect between story and reality might might get in the way of the story's believability) and the pros (oooh, the story ideas... Street View as murder alibi ... Street View revealing the future).

And then there's Google Earth. I had a Marketing Big Idea last week - if location is important to your story - like Sarwat Chadda's forthcoming Devil's Kiss which is set in dark and scary corners of London - why not use the new movie-making features of Google Earth and create a tour of your novel's locations
If you've written a book that has to do with archaeological digs and ancient civilizations like The Mummy Snatchers of Memphis by my friend Natasha Narayan - Google Earth claims to be able to give you access to the past, "With a simple click, take a look at suburban sprawl, melting icecaps, coastal erosion and more". As well as dive under oceans, etc etc.

There is some muttering that Google's ubiquity, so dangerously Microsoft-like, has pushed the corporation over to the Dark Side ... that Google has betrayed its famous motto, Don't Be Evil.
Are we in danger of being exploited by the Google juggernaut marauding into every corner of our lives?
Meanwhile why not exploit everything that Google has to offer first?

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