Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Google Street View Peeping?

I found this article on AOL, but it is from the New York Times originally.

Google Zooms In Too Close for Some
By MIGUEL HELFT, The New York Times
The New York Times
OAKLAND, Calif. (June 2) – For Mary Kalin-Casey, it was never about her cat.

Google said it takes privacy seriously and considered the implications of its service before it was introduced. “Street View only features imagery taken on public property,” it said.

Ms. Kalin-Casey, who manages an apartment building here with her husband, John Casey, was a bit shaken when she tried a new feature in Google’s map service called Street View. She typed in her address and the screen showed a street-level view of her building. As she zoomed in, she could see Monty, her cat, sitting on a perch in the living room window of her second-floor apartment.

“The issue that I have ultimately is about where you draw the line between taking public photos and zooming in on people’s lives,” Ms. Kalin-Casey said in an interview Thursday on the front steps of the building. “The next step might be seeing books on my shelf. If the government was doing this, people would be outraged.”

Her husband quickly added, “It’s like peeping.”

Ms. Kalin-Casey first shared her concerns about the service in an e-mail message to the blog Boing Boing on Wednesday. Since then, the Web has been buzzing about the privacy implications of Street View — with varying degrees of seriousness. Several sites have been asking users to submit interesting images captured by the Google service, which offers panoramic views of miles of streets around San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, Miami and Denver.

On a Wired magazine blog, for instance, readers can vote on the “Best Urban Images” that others find in Street View. On Thursday afternoon, a picture of two young women sunbathing in their bikinis on the Stanford campus in Palo Alto, Calif., ranked near the top. Another showed a man scaling the front gate of an apartment building in San Francisco. The caption read, “Is he breaking in or has he just locked himself out?”

Google said in a statement that it takes privacy seriously and considered the privacy implications of its service before it was introduced on Tuesday. “Street View only features imagery taken on public property,” the company said. “This imagery is no different from what any person can readily capture or see walking down the street.”

You can read the rest of the article on AOL MOney News by clicking here.

My comment: I am a huge fan of transparency, so you might think this new ability wouldn’t bother me. But the transparency I favor is transparency of business and government transactions, not people taking in my behavior in my own house! I am also a huge fan of personal privacy, and while a street view that just shows my cat in the window wouldn’t be alarming, it tells me that photos shot at night, which would show the interior of my residence, are also possible, and that thought troubles me very much.

Our homes are our castles! If my husband wants to walk around in his underwear (or less 😉 ) and I want to wear my nightgown all day when I am working on a special project, honestly, it is not YOUR business, nor anyone else on the internet! Do you want photos published, taken of you unaware in your own house? This capability is terrifying!

June 2, 2007 Posted by | Community, Family Issues, GoogleEarth, News, Pets, Photos, Privacy, Social Issues, Technical Issue | 1 Comment

Competitive Family Values

Even within national cultures, there are family cultures. You don’t really think about it when you are a kid, you think all families are like your family. It isn’t until you get older that you understand just how unique – even quirky – your own family is.

In our family, we were bred to be competitive. We started early, with simple card games and board games. We swam on swimming teams, we competed for grades. Doing well, doing our best was expected of us.

And then, we turned around and did it to our own children!

We used to have big family reunions in a small town along the Oregon beach. We stayed in an old complex, where there were two large units that shared a deck, and then several small cabins. The very social parts of the family shared the two large units – my mom and dad, and her brother and his wife – and the rest of us had the cabins, one to each family, althought the kids roamed from cabin to cabin – our children have always had the freedom of belonging to one great tribe!

Daytimes would be full of adventures – not everyone doing the same thing, but smaller groups having dodge-boat competitions, groups going on shopping expeditions to nearby towns, hiking in the parks, having some beach time – jumping the amazingly high waves in the amazingly cold Pacific ocean.

Around 5, people would start to gather on the big deck in preparation for dinner. Dinner might come out of the kitchens, or we might order food in, but once dinner was out of the way, the BIG competitions would begin.

Every year there was a huge hearts tournament, and a Liar’s Dice tournement. The family took these very seriously, from oldest to youngest, everyone entered, everyone competed. We took it so seriously that we had trophies that would be engraved with the winner’s names and passed along from year to year. We took it so seriously that sometimes there would be injured feelings when someone lost. Everyone wanted to be the winner, and in a family full of people used to winning, feelings ran high.

Giving up needing to win all the time has been seriously hard. There are still times when I am in a situation where I feel the adrenelin start pumping and I have to stop myself and say “Do you want to win this battle or do you want to win the war?” i.e., like chess, sometimes you have to sacrifice a pawn to achieve a greater victory down the road. Do I need to win every arguement at the cost of losing a friend? Do I need to win at the cost of my community?

I also think needing to win takes its toll in one’s health – when I allow myself NOT to need to win all the time, I feel calmer, more serene, and happier. I can’t help but think that being calm, serene and happy are probably good things to be in terms of health. Competition gets your heart beating faster, pumping through the veins, but can also take it’s toll in bad eating, bad sleeping and bad exercise habits.

My parents did a good thing encouraging us to be our best, to seek personal excellence and to strive for personal achievements; I honor them for that. When it comes to winning, however, I want to stop and count the cost before I proceed full steam ahead.

What does your family value? What attributes did they encourage you to develop?

June 2, 2007 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Generational, Health Issues, Social Issues, Women's Issues | 9 Comments