From Free Food, to Street View, to Street Spotting!

A screenshot of Google’s new street view.

Whoever said there’s no such thing as free lunch? Today, after overhearing a discussion at work, and doing a little research to verify what I heard, I learned that Google gives lunch – free of charge! – to its employees. What’s more, Google’s taking it a step further, providing free dinners, organic meals, hormone-free meats and unlimited snacks. According to the Washington Post, Google is spending about $100,000 a day to feed its staff. Apparently, this has helped Google attract young, creative types who are developing amazing tools that City Fix loves.

Google’s initial foray into the world of cartography came in the form of GoogleMaps, which has since been upgraded from simple mapping to include satellite images and hybrid views of cities and streets. Google then came out with Google Transit (the City Fix blogged about it here) and Google Traffic, which even technology and transportation geeks find amazing. Now, they’ve left us speechless with their high-quality Street View, which features street level photographs, virtual walks and other frills that they discuss in their own youtube video.

Now, thanks to Street View there is a whole new “field of study” emerging known as StreetSpotting, or “the ability for users to see certain parts of several big U.S. cities through panoramic images on Google’s Street View feature for Google Maps.” StreetSpotting has caught on because buried within Street View are hidden gems, photographs that are interesting, awkward, and just plain hilarious. Apart from all the eyebrows that it might raise from people concerned with privacy, Street View is definitely worth looking at. Follow the link to the Top 15 Google Street View Sightings.

Are all these new ideas the wealth generated by Google’s free lunch policy? Well, I can’t say for sure. But what I do know is that Google is constantly expanding the boundaries of what we thought mapping applications could achieve. And simultaneously they’ve created new trends that are worth checking out… even if is just for fun.

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