Picture This

A picture's worth 479 words

Picture this: Should we feel violated or famous? Out there on the Internet, for the entire world to see, is a fuzzy photo of a man outside the Dallas Observer's offices at Maple and Oak Lawn avenues. It might not be Buzz, but since the blurry man appears to have a beard and is smoking a coffin nail, the odds are good it's the ol' Buzzer. If only one person is ever outside our building smoking, it's likely Buzz. (Not that we spend a lot of time smoking when we should be working, oh corporate overlords. No more than four hours a day, tops.) And rest assured that if Buzz is the gent pictured on Google Maps, which introduced its controversial Street View project to Dallas this week, Buzz is busy mulling important journalism-related deep thoughts while sucking in sweet, sweet nicotine.

For instance, today we were contemplating the meaning of the fact that, thanks to the worldwide interlocking chain of computer networks, someone in Lima, Peru, can now view a blurry image of an anonymous smoker who might or might not work at an alternative weekly in Texas. Our conclusion: You'd probably have to go back to the creation of the drip-dry polyester sports jacket to find so much technological means devoted to so pointless an end.

So, let's put all this technology to good use, shall we? Do what Buzz spent part of this morning doing: Input the locations of Dallas strip clubs to see if cars belonging to anyone you know were parked outside. Look for hookers and drug dealers in your neighborhood. See if you can spot any homeless people taking a whiz on deserted downtown streets. Search the photos of Dallas taken by Google employees in cars and vans over the past year to see if they caught any images of city council members sneaking into the servants' entrance of Ray Hunt's house. And if you find any choice shots, send a line to our blog editor, Robert Wilonsky, so he can share them on our Web site.

What's that you're saying? Street View is a dangerous invasion of our privacy? Oh, relax, you hippie. They're just random snapshots of street scenes, not Big Brother. If Google is driving us toward a brave new world, it's one that resembles any podunk town in Middle America, where folks know that if you take a step in public, all your neighbors will be there to watch and gossip viciously if you stumble. Besides, if Google's photographers caught anyone doing something truly embarrassing in public, it probably wasn't you. But it might have been your neighbor or your boss. Certainly, a little potential loss of privacy is worth the remote chance that you will see someone you know making a public ass of himself, isn't it? That's why they put cell phones on cameras.

And newspapers in racks.

 
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