MapCrunch is a good example of what Bruce Sterling calls “composting”: one technology emerging as an unexpected bright green shoot from a steaming pile of some other technology. Less poetically, we might call it a mashup, or merely an unintended consequence. However we choose to describe it, MapCrunch is a tasty treat growing straight out of Google Maps’ Street View mode. There’s plenty of good fertilizer in Google Maps.
The idea is simple: click on a link and visit a random Street View location somewhere in Google’s vast corpus of street views. Which corpus being essentially comprehensive of the entire planet, you can just go and go and go and go. Their tagline is “teleport to a random place in the world.”
It’s addictive. You start clicking and the questions just flow.
What do street signs look like in Finland? Why do they have street view in Antarctica? (It’s a small but entertaining sample. Penguins!)
If you hide the map that shows where you are, can you figure out what continent you’re on? What country? (Where was the image above taken?) How long can your teleport around Germany before you find a blurred-out building? (Only three clicks for me!) Is there a hill in Holland? Can you do better than random playing “Is this Portugal or Brazil”? What’s around that corner?
What meta-MapCrunch games can you come up with?