Today in The Bulletin, Bend, Oregon’s local newspaper was a reprint of the New York Times article Google’s Map To Global Domination, by ADAM FISHER, published December 11, 2013.
What struck me was that I published to the internet, long before Google Maps, as Virtually Berkeley – 1999 a three block street view of Telegraph Avenue, a precursor of the current Google Street View. My technology was primitive, just an early digital camera, but I did composite 360° views along the street, and a series of block-long composite face views of the buildings. Also, there are a few short trips into the stores along the way, which Google is only now partially implementing. Also, for a brief period there were internet links to the various stores, now long gone. I had some computer geek friends who urged me in the strongest possible way to found a commercial venture on the idea, but if you read these posts you know I am lazy when it comes to actual work.
In reading Fisher’s New York Times article it became apparent I had anticipated Google Street Views by many years. It wasn’t until 2008 that Google even attempted what I had published in 1999. In the computer world of Silicon Valley a single month is thought the difference between success and failure with the introduction of a new idea. And there I was, not months, but nine years ahead of Google. If you think that an outrageous statement go look at my work, and do the click-throughs into the Med for example. Its click is in the middle of the lower picture.
A little different from street views is this list of 30 other 360° views from various locations, some of which are on the street and some in more inaccessible locations. Note the space photo of the San Francisco Bay, at the top, with clickable red dots for locations. It gives close-up 360° views of some of the same places. Also, note that I listed the exact geographic coordinates of the photos. All of those things pre-date Google by years.
My point is that in reading the Times’ historically inclined article and then viewing my ancient site you can see that I anticipated Google and its copiers by computer eons. I remember that when I presented Proba-95 in December 1994, it was greeted with a giant yawn, and only a couple of computer friends saw anything in my street views of Telegraph Avenue. And yet, that nineteen-year-old stuff is filled with ideas that are finally becoming “obvious all along,” and other material that is “laughed at,” and some that is still “condemned.”
That development of early ideas now seems obvious. It was ever thus, and still is. And now I have evolved to an even sillier venture, seeking into the unknown unknowns. Will I ever learn? Probably not, I’m too old to learn.