Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Every year, around this time (i.e. towards the end of the year) the Germans announce the 'word of the year'*, we were discussing just recently what it might be - it's usually something that's had to be added to the language because of a new development, and then yesterday it struck me that it could well be 'verpixeln'. I'm sure you can work out what it means, afterall it is so very close to its original English.

It's a word on everyone's lips and in all the news stories at the moment because Google Street View has gone live, and shock horror some of the properties are pixelated out because the owners requested it...or not as the case seems to be.

A year or so ago when Google anounced it was bringing Street View to Germany there was uproar. They didn't want it here, compromising their privacy, threatening their security, quite happy to go for Sunday afternoon strolls throughout the neighbourhood, staring into everyone's front rooms, commenting on the cars parked in front of the house, but to put that same information on the world wide web?
Nein, danke. Whole streets threatened to get together and bar the Googlemobile's progress, smash the cameras and so on.

Now the whole of Germany on a street level is visible to the whole of the curious world, and guess what, it looks just like anywhere else, except there's maybe a bit more pixellation...you see to calm the German public down they were told they could go online and register their address to be verpixelt when Street View was launched.
Our neighbours' house (a pretty much mirror image to ours) is pixellated as are 2 others on our road, ironically not the house where Mr Roadstop lives or the house where one of the top*** businessmen lives. My neighbour is rather embarassed by her blurry house, she 'claims' that she opted for the pixellation online just to 'try out the system' and is now cross because she'd thought she'd be able to see how much her (horrid) laurel hedge has grown. I didn't help matters by laughing and telling her that now everyone will think she's got something to hide.

Some of the natives are grumpy that their houses are verpixelt when they didn't ask for them to be, not just because of some online 'test' but becuse they either live in rented property and the landlord opted for pixellation or they live in a building that's divided into several apartments and one of the other occupants has opted for anonymity.
Such is the uproar that there's a Facebook page called 'Ungewollt Verpixelt' (ungewollt = unintentional/inadvertant) and some 'Google fanatics' have been out and about in Essen this weekend throwing eggs at houses which are pixellated on Street View - the world is going slowly crazier methinks, especially as someone on that site is now suggesting stickers for those houses which don't want to be pixellated (but are) saying 'ungewollt verpixelt', maybe I should make one up for my neighbour?

The irony of this whole Street View thing is that when you look at the pictures on the internet they are maybe 2-3 years old, so the Googlemobile was trundling around our streets well before it was even announced that it would do so, before the locals could get upset about having their privacy invaded, sneaky, sneaky Google, did you really think we wouldn't notice the half built houses...

* there is probably a way grander title that is most certainly in German and is more than likely longer than 4 words, after all there is that famous German motto** 'why use 1 word when you can use 10?'
** well, it's a motto in this house anyway and we're in Germany...
*** so close to the top of the pecking order in the German business world is he that he must need oxygen - they even have security guards for goodness sake

1 comment:

Ed said...

Take a photo of the house. Tag it on GoogleEarth. Job done! Some local has done that to my house. Now you can see the garbage piled against the wall and all the sand...