I can pull the little guy down onto the map and look up along Southlake Parkway, following the route that I take when I come back from my exercise walks. As the little guy crosses the dam, we look to the left and I can just about pick out my dock. We continue on a bit and I make the left turn, start up the hill.
And then stop. I can turn right and go up into the Cove, but Google Street View won't let me continue into our little neighborhood and stand in front of my house.
Street View has come to Birmingham and Lynn and I are amused and rather delighted that, for some reason, they didn't come up into our street. Maybe whoever was taking the pictures thought ours was a private street (it's not). Maybe they just forgot to finish up when they were done with the Cove. Maybe they got lost.
I'm not terribly concerned with personal privacy. Nearly a decade ago, the CEO of Sun Microsystems was famously quoted as saying, "Get over it. You have zero privacy anyway." That was in the days before hysteria over identity theft, when most people's concerns about internet privacy had to do with somebody stealing their credit card numbers when they shopped online.
The credit card companies hyped that one. After all, they were the ones who were liable if some thief rang up thousands of dollars of charges. Most consumers didn't realize how well protected they were. And I could never figure out why using my credit card on a well-designed shopping site was any riskier than handing my credit card to some young waiter in a restaurant. The big worry now, though, is identity theft. And there's no doubt that it is worth being concerned about, although statistics about how often it occurs and how much of a hassle it is vary quite a bit.
But one's sense of privacy is fundamentally an emotional thing. I was asked one time, by the person sitting next to me at an MLA dinner, how it felt for me to be revealing so much personal information on my blog, while not knowing who might be reading it. My response was that there was so much that I didn't reveal that I didn't feel any conflict between what I put on the blog and my sense of myself as a very private person. I always try to be as truthful as possible on the blog, but it still reveals only a tiny, tiny sliver of my real life.
So it wouldn't bother me if I could walk the little guy up into our neighborhood and take a look at my house. It's easy enough to find pictures of me on the web, so a picture of my house doesn't seem like a big deal. Still, I like it that it's not there, that my street isn't fully googlized yet. You can walk up to that intersection with the little guy, but then you're stuck, wondering what's really over that hill.