SPIN THE GLOBE
It's also for regular travelers. If you're not into random mind travel, you can click the Home () button to view a map of your current geographic location—and Wikipedia articles about nearby points of interest— this is useful as a virtual Tour Guide.
It's also for people with an interest in history, culture, science, and education. Each time you click the Star () button, you're transported to a different UNESCO World Heritage Site or other special site.
The Globebop opening screen
You can search for locations—for a map view (), for photo-spheres, or for Wikipedia articles ()—but the random () is fun because it surprises you; it often takes you to places you did not know existed. Globebop presents:
- Google Street View photo-spheres (panoramas)
- Google Maps satellite imagery (maps)
- Wikipedia articles about places (texts)
Unlike Google Earth and Google maps, Globebop provides random access to the amazing—and quickly growing—collection of photo-spheres in the Google experimental database. About 60% of the time, you view photo-spheres taken by individuals, not the Google corporation. And about 90% of those are not road shots. They're usually offroad locations that matter to whomever took the photo.
Globebop offers a seemingly inexhaustible stream of random locations around the globe and a unique virtual experience of our planet; I spent a lot of time making sure you rarely visit photo-spheres you've already visited. Not only is it richly pictorial, but you can read about many of the locations via Wikipedia articles. You've got a picture in your head of what this planet of ours is like. Globebop will change that picture, make it bigger, fill in a lot of gaps, and give you a strong sense of places you did not know existed and help you better understand places you already know about.
Globebop expands your vision of the planet we live on and shows you ways of life you hadn't previously glimpsed. The sort of capacious vision of planet Earth that Globebop gives you is important to living in the global village. It shows you the village is very large indeed, but it also makes it more familiar to you, and understandable.
Globebop also displays photo-spheres I've taken of my world, such as Poetry Street in Vancouver. These are available to navigate by clicking the white arrow links onscreen before you first click the Bop button (). Thereafter, you see photo-spheres from Google's database of photo-spheres, whether they're random, via the Bop button or of World Heritage Sites and other special sites, via the Star button.
Geoguessr and my mom's fondness for browsing maps and encyclopedias were the main inspirations for Globebop. Geoguessr because it showed me there are creative possibilities for Google Maps open to the individual programmer-artist. You don't need a team of programmers to do something interesting.
Mom's inspiration for Globebop was this. On Sunday mornings, when the newspaper carried an especially big crossword puzzle, the kitchen table would be covered with the books mom, dad and I used to do the crossword. She was the ringleader. An atlas or three of maps and mom's various crossword hint books were the main books. We also used the World Book Encyclopedia. We liked browsing the maps in the atlas and looking up in the encyclopedia places we'd talk about. I think of those days fondly. I can see us at the kitchen table, the Sunday sun shining in, whiling away Sunday morning doing the crossword and browsing atlases and encyclopedias learning about the world. Globebop is great for exploring the world via maps, Wikipedia articles about places, and photo-sphere panoramas. It's how this generation does what mom, dad and I used to do with atlases and encyclopedias.
Globebop is a different experience from Google Maps, which focuses on maps. Globebop focuses on viewing photo-spheres, though it also lets you view Google maps. You find where you're going, in Google Maps; in Globebop, you go way off-road near somewhere you barely knew existed. Globebop is quite different from Google Earth, also, which contains all of the above media types, because the focus of Globebop is entertainment and art; Globebop is focused on providing a compelling experience, an adventure that you can learn from. Google Earth is fantastic, but its focus is on providing a tool with an incredible number of layers of geographical information.
The funnest use of Globebop, for me, is to find by chance an interesting location (click until you get there) and then explore that area. Sometimes photo-spheres are linked to other photo-spheres, such as in the below photo-sphere. Clicking the white arrow links (or using the arrow keys on the keyboard) lets you 'walk' and explore the directions the links point in.
Click Map View () to see a map of where you are. You can zoom in and out of it using the '+' and '-' controls. If there are Wikipedia articles available, you will see markers for them (). Click them to open a summary.
If you want to read the full article, click the title of the article.
The red arrow () indicates the location of the current photo-sphere. It also indicates the direction in which the photo-sphere is currently looking. Usually. Sometimes the red arrow's direction is wrong. But usually it's right.
You can see a list of available Wikipedia articles by clicking the Search button (). The summaries of Wikipedia articles have a link to the nearest photo-sphere; that's another way to explore. But, additionally, if you drag a map so that it has a new center point, when you subsequently click the Street View button (), you will be shown the nearest photo-sphere to the center of the map.
Click to display Wikipedia article summaries about places close to the current photo-sphere. Click an article's title to visit the article or click " nearest photo-sphere" to visit the photo-sphere nearest the location referenced in the article.
Globebop displays Google Street View ‘photo-spheres’, which are 360°, navigable panoramas. Sometimes you encounter linked photo-spheres. Hypertext links texts. Google Street View links panoramic photo-spheres. You drag the photo-sphere or use the right and left arrow keys on the keyboard to turn around; you use the up and down arrow keys on the keyboard or click the onscreen hyperlinks to move from one photo-sphere to linked ones.
About one in ten of the photo-spheres are photographed by Google, which has fleets of cars, backpacks, trolleys, snowmobiles, and trikes to shoot photo-spheres. About 90% of the photo-spheres you see in Globebop from the experimental database are photographed by private individuals. It’s now quite easy to shoot them, given that Google Camera lets you shoot photo-spheres with an Android 4.2+ smartphone or iPhone and upload them to Google. There are other free software programs for smartphone cameras that let you shoot photo-spheres and upload them to a variety of collections.
Google had 20+ petabytes of photo-spheres in 2012. That’s more than 20,000 terabytes, or 20,000 computers full of photo spheres. If each photo-sphere takes up 2Mb, say, then that would be in excess of 10 billion photo-spheres. You can look at Globebop for a long time without seeing the same photos. I've been working on the app for two years now; even after playing with it as long as I have, it still shows me new places I haven't seen more often than it shows me places I've already seen. Globebop is a long bopper. You can use it for years and still enjoy it.
The photo-spheres are sometimes taken from a car and are simply like a single frame in a dash-mounted video cam. That accounts for about one in ten of the photo-spheres you see in Globebop. But even these Google corp photo-spheres can get considerably stranger than that, as the work of Jon Rafman demonstrates at 9-eyes.com. Rafman collects remarkable stills from Google Street View and displays them on his site. Most, or perhaps all of his collection, was photographed by Google employees. Rafman is looking for coincidental objective unusual drama, not the focused work of an individual photographer. In his essay The Nine Eyes of Google Street View he says:
Street Views evoked an urgency I felt was present in earlier street photography. With its supposedly neutral gaze, the Street View photography had a spontaneous quality unspoiled by the sensitivities or agendas of a human photographer. It was tempting to see the images as a neutral and privileged representation of reality—as though the Street Views, wrenched from any social context other than geospatial contiguity, were able to perform true docu-photography, capturing fragments of reality stripped of all cultural intentions.
Sounds like he's had second thoughts since then, naturally enough: Google cars are not unmarked, and Google itself is not unmarked; there is less "neutrality" going on than might appear at first. In any case, since Rafman began his interest, Google started letting individuals contribute photo spheres so that Street View is now quite different than it was previously. And it was mainly on the road. Now even Google itself takes gazillions of photo-spheres off-road.
But, interesting as the Google corporation photo-spheres occasionally are, to me, the ones taken by individuals are more interesting even if they are often not as accomplished technically. They are often a compelling statement about home, seemingly, about the place the photographer is from:
The above is by S Tanmay in Madhya Pradesh, India. The photographer is standing in dirt, almost in the mud. This is not the sort of photograph Google would take. Google in the mud? No, I don't think so. The photo seems to point to a problem. The water resource is being messed with. The photographer is standing in the dirt to show how, it seems.
The following photo-sphere by Jacqueline Rajuai in Kano Nigeria has the look of something taken by a wary observer, not a neutral one.
When we look at the Wikipedia articles for this photo-sphere, we see the photo was taken near the Great Mosque of Kano; the Wikipedia articles also make reference to the 2014 Kano bombing at the Grand Mosque in Kano:
The mosque is next to the palace of the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II, Nigeria's second most senior Muslim cleric, who had urged the civilians to protect themselves by arming up against Boko Haram. Two suicide bombers blew themselves up and gunmen opened fire on those who were trying to escape. Around 120 people were killed and another 260 injured.
This photo is involved in its place. And the Wikipedia articles give some indication of some of the main conflicts there. Globebop allows you to read about the place, which is very important. The photos shot by individuals take you to what they themselves think is really going on there, often, and being able to read about the place provides important background information. Google sometimes flukes into real life when the Google car happens across the sort of work we see collected by Jon Rafman. But here we have people taking photos of places that matter to them. There is usually something genuinely interesting present.
Also, you will note that about 90% of the photo-spheres you view in Globebop are credited to individuals, not Google. This is because Globebop chooses random locations when you spin the globe. Google has done a lot of photography in relatively few locations--relative to the world, that is. If you happen to view a photo-sphere in North America, it's likely to be photographed by Google because they have photographed North America extensively. But if you land on a different continent, it's likely a photo-sphere taken by an individual. This gives Globebop a very different experience than Google Maps or Google Earth or even Geoguessr, which keeps to the roads. Globebop rarely shows photos taken from a car on a road. It does, however, show a lot of beach shots. The reason for this is because when Globebop selects a random location, chances are good it's out in the middle of an ocean. Globebop then shows the nearest photo-sphere to that location. Chances are good the nearest one is on a beach at the edge of that ocean.
However, once Globebop has showed you a photo-sphere, it usually won't show you the same one for a very long time. This is because Globebop keeps track of the photo-spheres you've already viewed. So it doesn't show you the same ones very often.
I've been developing Globebop for more than a year. It's still showing me photo-spheres every day that I haven't seen before. It shows me how the world looks in places that I didn't know existed or had not seen photos of previously. When I finally got it to the point where you could also read Wikipedia articles, it was great to see how much that changed the experience from one of solely looking at photos to reading about the places also, which gives the experience greater depth. My horizons on the world are larger because of my playing with Globebop. I hope it broadens the horizons of many people around the world.
HOW TO DRIVE GLOBEBOP
Bop: Click the Bop Button (or shake your mobile device) to be transported to a random photo-sphere somewhere on/below/above planet Earth. The red dot indicates where you landed. Globebop does not take you to the same places very often. The mighty Globebop bop engine quickly finds new places you have not seen before, time and time again. You can use Globebop for years and it'll still take you to new places you haven't seen everytime you use it.
Keyboard shortcut: G or B
Home: Opens a map of your current geographic location at the center of the map and displays markers of Wikipedia articles concerning nearby notable locations. Good for travelers who want to find interesting nearby places to visit.
Click either of the two Home icons to display your current geographical location.
- To display the Home icon on the main menu,
- swipe the menu left or
- click the triangle icon at bottom right of the menu or
- press the 'x' key.
- swipe the menu right or
- click the triangle icon or
- press the 'x' key.
- Alternatively, to go to your current geographical location, click the Home icon at top left in Map View (shown above).
- Up to 10 Wikipedia markers are displayed concerning Wikipedia articles about places within 10km of the center of the map. Each time you drag the map and change the map's center, Globebop searches for Wikipedia articles within 10km of the new map center.
Click the magnifying glass to open the Search screen
- Read Wikipedia article summaries or, by clicking the article title, read the whole article. The distances in the article title measures the distance from the article's location to the current photo-sphere. The article summaries are ordered by distance: the shorter the distance, the higher up in the page the summary.
- Using the searchbox with the icon in it, search by location for photo-spheres.
- Using the searchbox with the icon in it, search by location for Wikipedia articles.
- A drop-down menu lets you choose the language for Wikipedia articles. There are different numbers of articles in different languages, and different articles, also. To affect the language of the map overlays, restart Globebop after selecting a language.
- Check the box to view the mobile version of Wikipedia articles, if your screen is large enough that you can conceivably view either the desktop or mobile version.
- The black box with the X in it closes the search screen. You can also make the search screen disappear by clicking buttons at the bottom of the screen (other than the Search button).
Map of the Roman Colosseum
- Rotate the map using the rotation tool at top left.
- Use the search box at top left to search for maps by location.
- Zoom in and out with the zoom slider at screen left. The + and - keys on the keyboard zoom in and out also.
- Drag the map to move it. The keyboard's arrow keys also move the map.
- Click a Wikipedia () marker to open a summary of a Wikipedia article about the location. Click the title of the Wikipedia article to open the full article.
- The drop-down menu labelled "Satellite" by default at top right lets you choose among three styles of map: "Satellite", "Noir", and "Map". "Noir" is a Globebop custom grayscale style. "Map" is the Google default map style.
- The drop-down menu shown above lets you choose to display street labels or not.
- The checkbox above labelled 45° lets you select whether to view the landscape at 45° when you are sufficiently zoomed in and such 3D photos are available.
Same area as above but in the familiar "Map" style
- The crosshairs () stay in the middle of the map after you drag the map.
- When you click the Street View button (), the photo-sphere nearest the crosshairs will be displayed. This provides a way to explore the photo-spheres of an area.
Same map as above but in the "Noir" style
- "Noir" is a custom Globebop map style.
- The "Noir" and "Map" styles sometimes display icons and labels that are not present in the "Satellite" style.
- The panoramic photo-sphere that will be displayed when you press the Street View button will be the closest one to where the crosshair () in the middle of the map is located.
- The Street View button displays only when in Map View. The Map View button displays only when in Street View. So the button that occupies the space of both the Map View and Street View button takes you back and forth between Map View and Street View.
- Drag a photo-sphere to turn around in its 360° view. The right and left arrow keys on the keyboard do this also.
- Some photo-spheres are linked to other photo-spheres via the white links at bottom middle of the photo-sphere. Click them to move to the linked photo-sphere. The forward and back arrow keys also let you navigate among linked photo-spheres.
Back: Go back to the previous photo-sphere. The number inside the Back button indicates the number of the current photo-sphere. The number starts at 0 at the beginning of a session and increments each time you visit a new location.
Back keyboard shortcut: B
Share your current Street View
- After you click the Share button (), copy the URL that is displayed. When you paste that URL into an email or Facebook (or whatever), when someone clicks the link, they are taken to the web version of Globebop and shown your precise current Street View.
- To try it, click the button. Copy the displayed URL. Open a new tab or window in your browser. Paste the URL in. That should display the same Street View you currently have in Globebop.
- You can also click "Or click to email a friend". This should open up your email program with the URL already in the email. But this doesn't work on all devices. If it doesn't work, first copy the URL and then click "Or click to email a friend". When your email program opens, paste in the URL.
- If you first click the Search button (), so that there are some Wikipedia article summaries displayed, and then click the Share button (), and then click "Or click to email a friend", then if your email client supports such things, the email client will contain the sort of information we see below in an email client. Specifically, the below client contains the address of the current Street View, the URL to share it, the photo credit for the photo-sphere, the title of the closest Wikipedia article, and the summary of that article.
Sharing your Street View via email
- Click the in the Share icon to toggle view of more menu options (shown below) . Alternatively, swipe the bottom menu left or, to restore the original view of the menu, swipe the bottom menu right.
- To see the Share button, swipe the bottom menu left or click the symbol. To restore the menu, swipe the menu right or click the symbol again.
Extra menu buttons are displayed.
- Click to display extra menu buttons (as shown above).
- Click again to restore the menu to its initial state.
- Alternatively, you can swipe the menu left to display the extra menu buttons and swipe the menu right to restore it.
- In other words, the forward button takes you to the end of history, to the highest-numbered photo-sphere according to the numbers in the Back button.
- To see the Forward button, swipe the bottom menu left or click the symbol. To restore the menu, swipe the menu right or click the symbol again.
Information: View information about Globebop. Clicking the Information button again closes the Information screen.
- Displays Globebop credits, keyboard shortcuts, Support information, and a link to the Globebop web site.
- To see the Information button, swipe the bottom menu left or click the symbol. To restore the menu, swipe the menu right or click the symbol again.
- A World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as of special cultural or physical significance. The World Heritage List includes 1052 sites forming part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value. Also included are other special sites of historical or other significance.
GLOBEBOP AT BERKELY
Globebop was exhibited in a show of digital literature titled No Legacy at the Bernice Layne Brown Gallery in Doe Library, U of Berkeley, curated by Alex Saum-Pascual and Élika Ortega, March 11 - September 2, 2016. Below are some images of the exhibition of Globebop.
Usually what you see in exhibitions of 'digital literature' is something that basically looks like a classroom with a bunch of computers. This was a bit different from that.
The exhibition is in a library, and the 'installation' of Globebop looks a lot like something you'd see in a library. It's like a news rack or map rack, but there's a touchscreen tablet for Globebop.
They also produced this etched glass/plastic.
Why, you ask, is Globebop in an exhibition of digital literature? My work is best known as digital literature; I've created a lot of online interactive poems and literary multimedia at vispo.com since 1996. But I also see writers as broadening poetry and literature not only into the digital, but into and through other arts and fields; literature is much broader than it used to be.
Globebop is educational and entertaining. The prominent presence of text (click the Search button) is crucial to the educational dimension of Globebop.