At its core social media is not about technology, it’s about story-telling — or perhaps more accurately “story-sharing” — and the key to good story telling is to achieve emotional impact.
Take for example social media created using Google Street View images. Google Street View (GSV) cars have been canvassing the roads of more than 30 countries fitted with 15 directional cameras that capture 360 degree panoramas. GSV is integrated into Google Maps so you’ve probably used it to eyeball a mapped destination or check out famous landmarks.
GSV is not without it’s controversies and detractors. Privacy advocates lambasted the company in 2010 when it was discovered that GSV vehicles were collecting data from unencrypted Wi-Fi networks. There is also concern that GSV cameras catch people in potentially embarrassing or private actions (see also Top 28 Google Street View Sightings).
Privacy issues notwithstanding, a few visionary artists have managed to harness what is essentially a neutered, high-tech mapping device, to create social media content with incredible emotional impact.
Director Tom Jenkins used GSV and simple stop-motion animation “Address is Approximate” to create a whimsical and inspiring story of a desk toy’s road trip to the West Coast. The one-man three-minute production is packed with enough imagination and emotion to garner 1.5 million views and counting.
My other favorite GSV mashup came last year as part of the debut of my favorite indie band’s new album, The Suburbs by Arcade Fire.
Arcade Fire partnered with director Chris Milk and Google to create a deeply personal interactive video experience called The Wilderness Downtown.
Using the single “We Used To Wait” and HTML5 coding in Google’s Chrome browser, the video experience starts by asking the viewer to enter their childhood address. The screen then splits into multiple windows producing images from the user’s childhood geography creating a suprisingly nostalgic and emotional journey.
If, like me, you ever pounded the rain-soaked pavement of your neighborhood streets in a fit of teenage angst, you will find this video particularly evocative.
H/T to Mashable for rounding up the top 5 Artistic Uses of Google Street View.