They said their motto was "Don't be evil"! -

They said their motto was “Don’t be evil”!


Normally my reaction to new technological developments is “Hooray! We’re living in the future!” But when I discovered yesterday that the monstrous unblinking eye of Google Street View had invaded my tiny hometown (population 1,534—double what it was when I was a wee boy), what I felt was more like roller-coaster horror/panic. My memories of Bon Accord are pretty much all in faded Super-8 and grainy black-and-white NTSC (we didn’t have a colour television set until 1978), with plenty of Walker Evans/Diane Arbus/David Lynch grace notes. The name of the place puts me in mind of innocence and freedom—but also of mean dogs, dead cats, sketchy neighbours, retarded teenagers, agricultural odours, rotting upholstery in abandoned automobiles.

To imagine a perverted technical intruder circulating throughout those streets is a rape of the id. All the more so, indeed, because the camera reveals a considerably more friendly, bourgeois place, one that I could no longer navigate on a three-speed with my eyes shut. Basic topographies that defined my world have changed immeasurably; hills flattened, ditches filled in, vistas of my dream life annihilated. Is nothing sacred to you, Google? Will you leave nothing untouched, unexamined, uninterrogated?


They said their motto was “Don’t be evil”!

  1. I believe the answer is: Nope.

  2. LOL

    You know, if you unplugged the internet and moved to a cave you could offer your id a much better defense. I hate to contemplate what other atrocities await you on the interwebs, and most of them have nothing to do with Google.

    Whatever you do, don't read the Wikipedia entry on Santa Claus.

  3. Has it really been so long since you visited your hometown in person? It's not like you live that far away.

    • Yeah, it has.

    • Would you ever want to visit Bon Accord, Alberta?

      • Nope. But if I grew up there, and the place lingered in my id as a half-remembered Maddinesque dreamscape, I might be tempted to visit.

  4. I just clicked the link and raped your id all up and down 52 Ave.

    Don't worry–I couldn't find your elementary school.

    • Eeeeeew.

  5. Google to Colby: All your id are belong to us.

  6. I'm growing increasingly suspicious that Google may be taking the Futurama Brain-Sphere angle, where they learn and document everything there is to document, then cement that knowledge as absolute by destroying the universe… and I'm not as concerned about this as I should be.

  7. I'm a little fascinated that Google is now getting street view level coverage of places they don't even have adequate satellite coverage of yet. It makes sense of course that a van with a camera is probably cheaper than satellite time, but still. It's a little weird that I can't get a decent satellite view of the town, but I can see all of the houses close up in full colour.

  8. Ever since that fallout with the Chinese Government, Google's supply of top quality satellite photos of North America has been curtailed.

  9. I find that when a company tells me not to worry because they are not evil, it is almost as reassuring as when a new neighbour pops their head over the fence and tells me not to worry they are not nosey.

  10. I find that when a company tells me not to worry because they are not evil, it is almost as reassuring as when a new neighbour pops their head over the fence and tells me not to worry they are not nosey.

  11. "…but also of … sketchy neighbours, retarded teenagers, agricultural odours, rotting upholstery in abandoned automobiles."

    Sure you weren't one of those "retarded teenagers" or "sketchy neighbours" Cosh? Just sayin'…

    • I didn't catch it at first, but I'm pretty sure "retarded teenagers" is going to get Mr. Cosh into a bit of trouble with Sarah Palin.

      Unless he meant it satirically, in which case Rush Limbaugh has taught us all that calling people retards is perfectly acceptable, as satire, including to Sarah Palin, who has an exquisite ear for satire (just ask David Letterman).

  12. Over Christmas I was visiting my parents and showed them Google streetview. We checked out a house that we'd lived in when I was 2-4 years old and saw that the brick BBQ that my dad and his buddy built about 26 years ago beside the house was in shambles. Him building it while I learned to ride a training wheeled bike in the driveway with my mom is one of my first vivid memories.

    Damn you street view!!!

    • It's probably worse than you think. If I know Google, the barbecue was probably still standing when they drove by, but they're jerks so they knocked it down.

    • Ah, someone gets it.

  13. I was having a look at one of my old high schools in toronto and noticed the second hand bookstore is still in business. It was such a scam the owner had going – we were given books we needed at beginning of school year and we had to write our names in each book but if you lost one, you had to replace it yourself – I remember going to the bookstore and buying my own book back from the guy at least four times.

    • You flunked the same course three times?

  14. Until they start hitting the outbacks where the Ted Kaczynskis of the world live, there will be little backlash.

    This is not good for MLS realtors, amongst others. Mrs Kravitz, however, would approve.

  15. Get this: I've got a full-colour view of MY OWN HANDS typing this comment, but Google doesn't have so much as an 8-mile orbiting view of my person.

    • First off, don't be so sure.

      Second, what are your hands doing in Bon Accord, Alberta without you?

      • Becoming the Devil's workshop, by the looks of it.

        • You'll go blind.

    • I'd rather not see what your hands are up to. I'm putting "safe search" back on.

  16. I couldn't find the plaque! Is it by the front door?

  17. Colby, all I can say is it is very disturbing to google street view through the route you walked to school by almost 30 years ago. The street of my parents first house still isn't paved and apparently not worthy of the google truck – probable for the better. Is it just me or is the only name for a hotel worse than Duck's – The Moonlight Hotel.

  18. Hahah. This article cracks me up. So true.