From Here to Street Level

Lady Bug 5x5The following Roots to the Past column appeared during the summer of 2011.

I often leap before I look. Sometimes I cause more trouble than it’s worth when I do that. Other times, I discover things I never thought existed. Part of the reason I leap without first considering all the possibilities or limitations is because I’m ignorant to certain facts. This is a good thing sometimes.

For example, one day I was entering random keywords into the Google search engine. Although I didn’t believe anything would come of it, I inserted the address where my grandaunt lived in the 1940s. To my surprise, an image appeared on the screen. It was as if I was standing in the middle of the street and looking at the old house. I could pan the view finder left or right and see other houses and everything else on the street.

I called my mom and told her what I was doing. I had to share the news that I could sit at home in Nova Scotia and see a place a thousand miles away she had visited more than sixty years ago. Of course, I didn’t stop there. Armed with several addresses of family members from the past, I searched Google Street View to see what I could find.

If you’ve never given Street View a try, I suggest you do. You won’t be disappointed. Dial-up users like me will need to be patient, but high speed connections can zoom through images quickly. Google claims you’ll be able to, “explore places around the world through 360-degree street-level imagery.”

Street View contains residential buildings as well as non-residential structures. Researchers can view churches, businesses and other prominent institutions with a connection to their family . . . if they’re still standing. Of course, Google photographs around the world, so if your ancestors were married in St. Andrew’s Cathedral at 90 Dunlop Street, Glasgow, Scotland, you can virtually visit. Entering the name of the church in the search box doesn’t work. The actual address must be used.

The method of obtaining images for Street View is basic; vehicles armed with image-capturing equipment drive through streets with cameras rolling. Perhaps you’ve seen these rented vehicles with the cameras mounted and pointed in several directions. Chances are they’ve been on your street unless you live in a rural area off the main drag.

There are some who will complain Street View is intruding on their privacy. It is but no more so than public web cams and security cameras in retail outlets. Personally, I believe the ability to view a snap shot of a location thousands of miles away, a place of importance to my ancestors, outweighs any feelings of intrusion. Perhaps in the years to come, we’ll be able to view real-time images of anywhere in the world.

Roadway, weather and street web cams provide current images of locations, but they are very specific and limited. Google Street View aims to capture images of all structures, whether residential, institutional or business. It is one of the easier, quickest and cheapest ways to visit places in the world many can only dream of.

* * * * ~ ~ * * * *

The short story collection Nova Scotia – Life Near Water by Diane Lynn McGyver (aka Diane Tibert) eBook is available for FREE until midnight tonight  (11:59 pm, Pacific Time). The regular price is $2.99. Canadian residents can download it here, and those in the United States will find it here. It’s available in other countries too by visiting the Amazon page for that particular country.

Thank you for your downloads.

The two short stories in the Castle Keepers Tales series–Destiny Governed their Lives and Blade of Truth–are available for FREE through Smashwords and other outlets, but I had to put a 99 cent sticker price on them at Amazon (Kindle) to get them listed. At Smashwords you can pick up the FREE Kindle-formatted version.

These books will remain free for another year or so. Once all three books in the Castle Keepers series are released, I’ll gather these short stories, add a few others I’ve written and release them all in a collection.

About the Castle Keepers Tales

I began the Castle Keepers Tales to share extra stories about the characters who appear in The Castle Keepers novel series. Each is a stand-alone story, often telling a tragic event that happened in the past, before the first book, Shadows in the Stone. Through these stories, readers can better understand the characters and appreciate a little more of why they act as they do. We are all products of our past and pivotal events shape us into whom we are. These stories are not spoilers for the books, but enhance them. If a story does prove to undermine the enjoyment of a book, I’ll make note that the book should be read first. Otherwise, enjoy these tales without worry.

NS Life Near Water candle



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