Just read a very interesting blog post by Mark Easton of the BBC on “Blobbing” the process of masking the identity of people from public imagery; while at the same time examining in the most extreme detail the life of “so called” celebrities.
Mark makes a very good point as to how history will judge our decisions, I would add to his argument in, as well as representing a whole generation of children as “blob heads” or “pairs of trainers”, we are also by accident misrepresenting modern city life.
My removing images of drunks in the streets, sex shops, and the random suburban semi-detached are we painting an unrealistic picture of what modern city life is like.
I’m sure the editors of some tabloids would like to be able to return to the largely mythical view of London represented in Ealing Comedies or Disney Films, where although there were plenty of cheeky chappy criminals, no real harm was done, and everybody went about their business with patriotic duty, the reality then, as it is now is a lot more messy – but such is city life !
London is the vibrant exciting cosmopolitan city I chose to live in, and like all cities it has its rough edges, but that’s what makes it the city it is – take those away and you end up with the version of the UK from Disneyworld.
Written and submitted from the BA Lounge, Gatwick, using its free BT Openzone 802.11 network.
4 replies on “Blobbed City Life”
I agree to the point that the tabloid reaction has been over-the-top and very out of line with the thoughts of people that I have spoken with about the street view work.
Having said that, I think it is good for us as a society to be overly cautious and critical whenever new technology allows for such massive intrusion on our lives.
In response to the thrust of your argument, which seems to be that we should leave the pictures alone because they have more veracity, we should remember that it isn’t Google’s mission to record modern day life through street view. I’d rather we leave this important work to a body accountable to the electorate rather than shareholders.
If we need to know that a percentage of people get drunk in the street, let’s have that recorded by academics, the ONS or the police and health authorities. We do not need to have that graphically displayed in a way that identifies individuals who have not agreed to take part.
Personally I find the reaction to Street View as interesting as its geography. And Mark Easton makes some very good points. The person taking a leak on the street, or emerging from a sex shop, is as anonymous as the next frame until the tabloid press decides to unearth it. Who is the real ‘remover of privacy’ here? For me it’s the shock headlines, rather than Google itself. I wouldn’t have known about the people being sick or, on a lighter note, the shark in the Oxford house.
It’s effectively a 21st century update on the Pathe newsreel as far as I’m concerned… only with a hollow din from Fleet Street trying to create a noise. Perhaps they’re nervous of being ‘old media’.
Okay, I have no choice now but to share with you a little story about this particular scene you have posted, Ed.
That yellow building with the arch to the right is the Winnie the Pooh store, complete with various odds and ends and mainly, Pooh-stuff. One night, during a typical visit from Melbourne, Fl, where I was residing and working, we decided to have a couple stouts at the UK Pub, which I believe is on the corner left, behind this picture’s vantage point.
I have this vintage Pooh-bear that I decided to take with me, one part for fun, and one part to see if there was anything quite like him. I’ve had him since I was 2 1/2 years old. No kidding! I carried him along in my back-pack — his head was even sticking out. We decide to pop over to the Pooh store after rolling out with a couple stouts in our bellies, and as I come up to the store — a giant Winnie the Pooh came running out of one of the doorways and grabbed me.
From there, Pooh was just being creepy — following me around me very close and such. It was quite surreal. I thought I’d share my having been completely overwhelmed by the Pooh.
Here’s another classic example of a celebrity being snapped by StreetView, and the face not being blurred, so it is immediately obvious who it is….