“We Pixel Our Houses” or “For Internet Illiterates”

A short time ago, I wrote in an article how sorry I was to see so many houses in the south-east of Munich visible as nothing but pixels (in street view). I was truly annoyed about it. One comment on my article was “much ado about nothing …”.  So let me say it again:

I do not think it is all that unimportant. Let me use a postcard allegory in order to explain.

Imagine yourself living many years ago. A new technology has just been invented: photography. It spreads with enormous speed. Photographers replace the professional painters. They do portraits, take photographs of weddings, festivals … and landscapes.

At the same time, a new mobility developed. More and more people visit other countries and cities, going by coach, train or ship. They go as far as far-away Venice.

And some ingenious entrepreneurs developed a new product. The postcard! Time was ripe for it, because a short time ago, a functioning world-wide postal system had been introduced. Now, our travellers get the opportunity to send a postcard home with a picture of the fulfilment of their dreams on it. There is no doubt that this is a truly sensational technological advancement.
Unfortunately, however, the citizens of Venice feel that sending pictures that show their palaces to any old place in the world violates their privacy. They demand of the photographer that he blacken their houses.

After all, street view is nothing other than a super postcard based on current technology.

Now I hear you object: Google is a totally different affair, they earn money with it. But remember that even Adam Smith, the philosopher of morals and enlightenment and founder of the classic economical theory already said it: your baker does not bake your bread because he is such a philanthropist. He bakes them because he wants to make as good a living as he can. And of course, the same that was true for a postcard producer in those days is true for Google today.

🙂 Well, maybe we should ask the question how famous Venice would have become if everybody had sent nothing but blackened postcards.

Yet, my opinion remains the same: covering up everything with pixels is again one of those typically German things. And, for the time being, I will approach those people who have had their houses converted into nothing but pixels with scepticism. Because I think they must be particularly small-minded in some way or other. Maybe they have little interest in cosmopolitanism, tolerance, serenity or broad-mindedness. Instead, they are probably characterized by fear of everything new and alien and a certain degree of “thinking in terms of security”.

🙂 Well, maybe I am just as small-minded – only in a different direction.

(Translated by EG)

Now, Microsoft prepares to launch (Start) Bing Streetside in Germany. I am quite curious if there will, again, be as many protests. Basically, I think not. If so, Google would, for a change, be the last, even though they were the first, at least in Germany.

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