Just when you thought your neighborhood was safe…

So, in my last post I discussed some of the interactive stuff going on with cell phones, GPS navigation systems, and other forms of technological mapping.  And then, lo and behold, I was made aware of Google Maps updated/updating ‘street view’ feature.  I’ve been told that they’re driving frantically around the country in a video van, taking photos and film like crazy.  It’s awesome.  My apartment in a Boston suburb has already been mapped, though my family’s house in Indianapolis has not (hello, family!).   I am now going through all acquaintances I have an address for, stalker style, to see if they’ve been mapped yet.  Or if there are other ways I can invade their personal space.

Really, it’s not scary.  And it’s not just about curiosity either.   It’s about something new and exciting.  It’s about the viewing experience as well as being able to interact more fully with your environment.  it’s about landmarking in a new way.  And while it still leaves questions to be answered about flexibility (I can’t pan up or down or ‘drag’ my environment around like I want to, and it doesn’t allow any user innovation such as adding more recent photos), it’s a very good start.  And it’s free.  Actually the flaws that I see with it are the same things I’d like addressed by Microsoft’s little Photosynth, but that’s another story.

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Paradox

I was looking around the blogosphere today, looking to see if anyone had caught some nice lunar eclipse photos. My own experience yesterday evening was rather disheartening. Either we caught the tail-end of it, or just the beginning. Either way, it was cold and only covered in some small section, rather than the complete darking I was expecting. Mike still took several long-exposure moon shots, and I’m sure they will turn out to be lovely. Plus, with the delay in setting up each shot, there should be a nice array of the progress of the eclipse itself, catching transitions that are not necessarily apparent to the maked eye (or human patience).

I can remember two previous lunar eclipses. Somehow both of them were cold. The first, most recent experience, was in my final year of undergrad, 2003. I was at a graduation party for a group of my friends, and my parents were also there to celebrate. At some point during the crowded apartment gathering, Sirus reminded us that it was the night of the eclipse. So we dutifully trekked outside to stare up at the sky. We had to walk almost a full block to be able to see a full range of sky, and I had inappropriate shoes on for the walk. But it was oddly nice to stand in the middle of the street and gaze up with my parents and the two other friends who’d braved the cold. The second experience, from my childhood, i can’t quite place in time. I know it was cold, and I know we were on some kind of trip. I can remember myself and my only little sister at the time being carried outside of our hotel rooms. Out in the parking lot, our parents put us down and told us where to watch. For that one I Only remember wanting to be held and warm again, but I’m still glad my parents dragged me outside, half-asleep. The waking insured the memory would stay.

There is something to be said about the delight of those waking moments, when the outside world is always chilly, my that chilliness serves mostly to make you more alert. In watching an eclipse, it seems like the air is always crisp, the world is always quieter, but somehow more vital. It seems to invoke that inner reflection that is a little sacred.

I did also uncover in my recent search a delightful little blog called “The Wiccan Scientist”. My own personal first reaction was ‘a paradox! How lovely!’ The definition of the word ‘paradox’ is “a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.” (Dictionary.com Unabridged). There are some nice explanations of different lunar eclipse views on it here, but I will take most to heart the closing lines of the posting:

“So, I will find the time tomorrow to spend a few minutes reflecting and giving thanks. Even if you’re not a Wiccan, you might take a minute or two while you’re watching the eclipse to do the same. “

One of those really cool things I wish they did everywhere.

So I was browsing the online energy/environment resources at the MIT, and I discovered this.  Not only do I not know how it works (probably some math thing manipulates the raw data), but there are disclaimers right at the top telling you the data may not be completely accurate.  But still, that’s pretty cool (oooh, pretty colors!  And I can choose my spectrum!  Yay!).  Just like iFIND and Wiki City Rome are cool.  Of course, in a world with Smarter Agent and GPS car navigation systems soon to include local gas, store, and housing information, I have high hopes that this kind of expenditure information will soon be available as I pass by.

Just think about it: consumers could actually have the ability to screen and choose the stores and companies they frequent based on energy expenditures, or other typically unobservable product costs.  Information on pollution and recycling and waste managment could become public domain and readily accessible in map form.  How awesome would that be?

We do public information releases like that now for where sex offenders live and work.  Why not make the ‘bad guys’ of the corporate world take some accountability too?