Showing posts with label Google Streetview. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Google Streetview. Show all posts

Friday, March 21, 2014

Virtual Museum Tours!

Google is teaming up with various art museums to create the Google Art Project/Google Cultural Institute. The effort also includes "world wonders" -- world heritage sites of the modern and ancient world. Google comes in with the same technology used to produce Google Streetview, mounted, not on a car, but on a trolley. This came to my attention when the Boston Globe ran a story about one of our local museums, the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum mounting the first-in-New-England virtual tour of their collection. Boston calls itself the Hub (which means Hub of the Universe), and we in New England know that First in New England means first of importance from the Boston point of view...

That said, there are a few other notable museums and sites that are also in the Google Art Project/Cultural Institute, so you will enjoy visiting the site for more than just the charming collection of the Gardner Museum. Isabella Stewart Gardner was a rebel socialite at the turn of the 20th century in Boston, so you can imagine that she was a strong personality. She was much talked about in her own lifetime and continues to be a big figure in Boston lore. She was also a friend of major artists and intellectuals and a major art collector and patron. Her will lays out a remarkable number of rules for continuing her home and collection as a museum, including maintaining the house and collection as she owned it, and free admission to anybody named Isabella. It really is a fun museum because it's in a charming house, with a sunlit, roofed conservatory garden, and a distinctive collection.

More entertainingly still, two days after the Globe article on the Gardner virtual tour appeared, the retired curator of the fabulous Museum of Bad Art (MOBA), wrote a letter to the Globe. The Museum of Bad Art really is a hoot. I have visited and it's fun and very interesting. Many of the works are so bad that they run around the circle of taste into good. MOBA is housed in two places: the basement of Dedham Community Theater and the basement of Sommerville Movie Theater in Davis Square (the branch I visited). The letter so far only appears in the print version, which makes me sad. I reproduce it here:
Gardner museum follows in footsteps of the greats
Upon Reading the headline "Gardner 1st museum in N.E. to offer virtual walk-through" in Wednesday's Globe, I spit my morning coffee all over the front page.

As any student of art histroy should know, the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) pioneered the concept of a virtual art gallery nearly 20 years ago with The Virtual Museum of Bad Art CD-ROM. We're certain that our colleagues at the Gardner Museum would be the first to admit that their impressive new virtual museum owes a debt tot he technological trailblazing of MOBA so many years ago.

In the time of Windows 3.1, floppy disks, and AOL dial-up Internet, the MOBA Virtual Museum not only captured the entire MOBA art collec tion but took you behind the scenes to the offices, the gift shop, the rest rooms, and all the other essential facilities of a modern art museum.

Despite its primitive 1995 technology, the Virtual Museum of Bad Art has withstood the test of time. Even today, by anyone's standards MOBA's Virtual Museum is still clearly very bad.

In the words of one reviewer in 1995 -- "a complete waste of plastic." Jerry Reilly Newton.
Somehow I doubt that we'll see the MOBA in Google's project any time soon. So, if you are ever in Boston, try to make time for a visit. It makes a nice evening out together with a movie!

The image is of Isabella Stewart Gardner, a portrait by Zorn Alexander painted in 1894 in Venice, from the Gardner collection. I chose it over the more staid portrait by the better-known John Singer Sargent because I think it better illustrates the zest Mrs. Jack brought to life, and why she shook Boston up.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Google Streetview Going to the Galapagos Islands

The Google Streetview folks are going to the Galapagos Islands!  When I heard this, I imagined those little cars bumping disastrously over volcanic rocks and giant tortoises.  But no! They are outfitting hikers with 42 pound computer backpacks (!) and those round balls you see on the cars. Inside the balls are an array of 15 cameras pointing in all different directions to give you the "surround" image you get with Streetview.  These intrepid hikers are called "trekkers," and will give those of us who will probably never tour the Galapagos ourselves a chance to tool around the ocean, beaches, rocks and even a volcano!

See the article I selected from the Washington Post, though there are a gazoodle out on the Internet right now.  The article mentions that they are processing the images right now. But I didn't know that they have already expanded beyond streets, with views of the Amazon rain forest, the ocean floor and Arctic.  Between using the satellite images, and Streetview, it's a very interesting way to explore our world.  The Post article mentions that they are hoping to use this new imaging technology to watch how tourism is affecting the environment in the Galapagos.  Interesting.

The image comes from the Google folks, and appears at multiple news sites. This was downloaded from the Toronto Star version of the AP story written by Jason Dearen.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Google Settles Streetview Privacy Invasion Suit with 38 State AGs

The New York Times has a lengthy article detailing the settlement and background of a lawsuit by 38 states' attorneys general against Google for privacy violations in connection with its Streetview recording of homes and streets.  It was not the actual images of houses that got Google into trouble.  The little Google cars and vans were doing more than just recording images of the roads and environs as they drove across the country building maps for Streetview.  They "data-scooped" from millions of unsecured wireless networks as they passed by!  Apparently, the idea was hatched by a single Google engineer, but he told others, and the news eventually reached the top of Google's hierarchy, who did nothing to stop it.  When the government began an investigation of the matter, it appears that Google tried to cover up the matter. (see the Wall Street Journal article closer to the scandal.)

The settlement is $7 million which is a pittance to Google, which evidently takes in $32 million per day (see the New York Times article, which notes this figure).  Google has had a long history of problems understanding respect for privacy as well.  See Scott Cleland's excellent blog post at Precursor blog about this. He not only includes a lengthy list of Google's history of privacy incursions, but also links or articles that include the 2010 and current Google statements on privacy, and the statement from the Connecticut Attorney General which announces the settlement.  This page includes two links which explain how to set up your wireless router for encryption to secure your network for privacy: 

Don't be evil, Google!  The image of a Google Streetview car with the equipment is courtesy of the Wikipedia Commons. It is labeled Google Street View car in Southampton, Hampshire, England.