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?