Posted on April 9th, 2009 No comments. The post is really that bad, huh?

The streets are a wonderful place for spotting memorable people.

The guy across from me on the streetcar this morning had the face, bristle, and thick-rimmed glasses of Elvis Costello, the fashion sense of Paul Giamatti, and the hair of Sideshow Bob. I walked through the entrance to my building with the spitting image of a female manservant Hecubus. We both passed the building’s property manager who bears more than passing resemblance to Dr. Evil.

Shouldn’t people like this be on camera? Some people don’t think so.

In an article today, The Star published a publicity piece for a group (led by Ryan Ringer) calling themselves Methinks Presents, which if you ask me, is a total misnomer.

What they intend to do is to swarm the Google Street View car that has recently been making the rounds in Toronto in order to bring attention to the “creepy nature” of Google’s project. As part of the event, they’ll probably be taking pictures in a public location.  In the process, they’ll probably be capturing the numerous random faces of people who just happen to be passing by and won’t have any say in  (or even knowledge of), being photographed. Not to mention the number of random webcams, camera phones,  and “security” and traffic cameras that cling to every available nook and cranny downtown. It’s a safe bet that everything will find its way onto Flickr, YouTube, blogs, etc.

To argue that Google is invading our privacy from the inside of a car, from a public road, means that it shouldn’t be legal for anyone to take photographs from anywhere, of anything, for any reason. Or is it just Google because they’re “evil”? Maybe Methink’s protest is intended to be somehow artistically ironic? Somehow, methinks not.

My shitter being equated to the middle of my street throws the notion of “reasonable expectation of privacy” out the window. Everything would be considered private (if the street would, what wouldn’t be?). Recorded images of any kind would have to be illegal, probably forcing the government to ban the use of cameras. While at it, why not extend the same courtesy to audio recordings? That would really suck for quite a few people.

I suppose one alternative would be to ask permission whenever you took a picture; permission of anyone in the shot (or blur them out); permission from the owners of any properties in the frame (or blur them out); permission from owners whose pets appear in photographs (or blur them out). God help you if an identifiable airplane or bus happens to pass into your shot.

Sounds silly, doesn’t it?

Not only does Methink’s plan sound horribly illegal (“hey, let’s go swarm a car because we don’t like what it’s doing”), but they’re pushing an idea that is contrary to the public good. Mine especially. I bought a brand-spanking new camera not too long ago and I don’t want to be  ambushed by Methink’s grouptards for taking a picture of the Eaton Centre.

I don’t think most people would be bothered  if they saw themselves walking down the street in a Street View scene, unless maybe they were caught doing something questionable. In that case, may I suggest maybe not doing that in public?

Oh, and when the Google car does approach, I think there’s a much better way to deal with one’s public image. Do a quick straighten-up, put on a giant shit-eatin’ grin, and give a crazy big thumbs-up as the car passes. The virtual tourist will find Toronto to have very inetersting people. Isn’t that much more productive?

What's on your mind?