1. Howard_B
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    Howard_B Active Member

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    Google Street view in Germany

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Howard_B, Jan 3, 2015.

    I just made such an annoying discovery about Google Street view in Germany. Jeeez.

    Have you ever brought up all of Germany on Google Maps and drag and hold the Street view icon over it and hold ? ..... well you will find that only the centre of a handful of the major cities are covered ! .. in contrast with the rest of Europe/world.

    Why is it relevant to me just now ? Well I am coming to the climax of my MI5 spy novel and had it all planned to happen in the West of Germany between Frankfurt and Luxembourg. The action has been in London/USA until now and I planned to spend a few days exploring Frankfurt and the roads to Trier , and Trier itself using Google Street View before writing the final chapters.

    What a bummer. Now I am in a pickle. I have no way of knowing the landscape, roads and landmarks, and small local street views ... so either I make it up completely ... or I change the location to Belgium/Brussels.
     
  2. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    And Austria. Does this reflect Germany's control of the EU? Best not go there. Many building also have images removed - perhaps banks/government etc.

    Another option if you don't want Belgium or even France, is to try online holiday brochures, bus tours, river cruises, historical tours, and see what you can glean that way. Or real stuff from other than Germany, particularly border areas where architecture/roads wouldn't change much. Probably a bit convoluted.

    Unless you confine to major cities, a move to Belgium/France/Lux may be the only option.

    Yeah, a bummer.
     
  3. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    Live in Western Germany and never noticed this before. Huh.

    You could try the bird's-eye-view with Bing maps. Won't give you as much detail but might still be helpful. If your character is driving from Frankfurt to Trier on the Autobahn, the view would be very dull indeed.
     
  4. Gawler
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    Gawler Contributing Member

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    I have the same problem but worse, my novel starts in a small town in Sweden. Initially it was Bensbyn but could get no details anywhere as to the layout, let alone a view on Google Maps, street or otherwise. Switched it to Sulvik and have same message, no views available!
     
  5. Howard_B
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    Howard_B Active Member

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    Austria .. ah yes I see ! ridiculous isn't it.
    I would suggest that it proves their lack of control considering the in depth level of street view across the rest of Europe.

    Your point about tourist stuff is a good one. I tend to look for locations on side streets and off the beaten track.

    Yes ... it is looking like Brussels and Liege for the final confrontation :) Great street views.[/quote]
     
  6. Howard_B
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    Howard_B Active Member

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    Street view offers the ability to walk down main and side streets and use lots of local colour, such as shops, street stalls, park benches, locations of big trees, and the character of the locations.
     
  7. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    I realize that. I just thought as an alternative Bing might give you some information.
     
  8. Howard_B
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    Howard_B Active Member

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    Hey ... I appreciated your comment. Absolutely. Many thanks.
     
  9. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    Did I sound grouchy? Sorry. Really wasn't! I guess that's what those smiley emoticons are for. ;)
     
  10. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    As usual, a political thing, apparently:

    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2383363,00.asp

    Not to be a smart-aleck, but I would never try to write a book set in another country without visiting said country. I've seen too many literary train wrecks written by those who have.
     
  11. Howard_B
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    Howard_B Active Member

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    Well no offence intended Steve, but firstly I don't see any logic in this, and secondly how could you possibly know if a writer visited every country his characters do ?
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Sounds more cultural than political (maybe you meant the same thing). I wonder if it was as easy to opt out here in the US how many people would have their houses or businesses blurred out?
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2015
  13. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    I would have thought the logic of visiting a place in which one intends to place a story would have been obvious. No offense.

    I can't know, of course. I have, however, read novels by authors who live outside the US where it was apparent that the writer hadn't visited the places she wrote about or hadn't done sufficient research into US culture. It may be that a brief visit won't allow the writer to glean all the detailed information she would need to impress me with her knowledge of the US, but a week or so wandering New York City should provide her with much more than she would get from Google Street View.

    One very small example: there's an author from the UK who writes police suspense novels placed in New York City. She often has police officers ordering suspects and others to "Stay!". No US police officer would say that. "Stay down!", maybe, or "Stay there!", but never just "Stay!" like one would command a dog, but it seems to be comm0n usage among officers in the UK. As I said, a small thing, but sufficient to pull me out of the story while I contemplate the error.

    As I said, "I would never try to write a book ..." . None of my business how you handle that aspect of your work, unless I happen to read it.
     
  14. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    I meant political, but I see what you mean. It looks like the problem was mostly citizens complaining about the privacy aspects, though there was this: "In fact, German officials had been protesting Street View far prior to the service's official unveiling in November of 2010."

    I wouldn't opt out, because I was sitting on my porch when the Google car came through, and I'm looking forward to seeing myself wave on Street View.
     
  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I'm with @Howard_B though, about using real places. Twilight totally gets Forks screwed up, it's a passing comment to most readers. Not saying that's the best example, but it's one that immediately comes to mind. The characters walk off trail in the Olympics. If you've ever been there you'd know that wasn't possible. Between the trees, the terrain is a jumble of fallen trees and bushes over holes and boulders. Every step off trail involves climbing over the next log or hole. La Push is a poverty stricken mess, not the idyllic Indian Reservation Meyers made it into.

    Readers rarely care about such mistakes in the details.
     
  16. Gawler
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    Gawler Contributing Member

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    If anything the USA would be the easiest place to be able to get away with not visiting because so much media is US focused. Take movies, lets do a remake of War of the Worlds or Godzilla and base it in the US. You cannot escape the American culture if you wanted too.
     
  17. Howard_B
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    Howard_B Active Member

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    @stevesh
    I understand where you are coming from, however your statements throw such a wide net that they are really meaningless. There is a huge difference between a book where a huge chunk of the story, characters, infrastructure and local interaction are in a country that an author has never visited, and one where one or two characters fly in and carry out some operations for three days before leaving again. I don't mean to be aggressive but your global dismissal is therefore somewhat risible.
    In the case that you mention you also need to keep something in mind. A writer who thinks that they readers are in their own country doesn't need to worry what readers in the story setting think. Americans and those in NY may laugh at the references, but not those in Europe or the UK.
    American writers who write about London for example, even though they go to London and live there for a while, write some of the most appalling nonsense about Londoners and local dialect. But they don't usually care, and readers in the UK take this into account when they read it. I am reminded of a couple of books by Michael Connolly that I read late last year and many I have read previously.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2015
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  18. Howard_B
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    Howard_B Active Member

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    Well in the early part of my current book I have two agents who fly into Chicago and drive to Notre Dame and Purdue in West Lafayette. They stayed two days and met three people.
    I used Street view to find the correct roads, junctions, and views of some key buildings. I followed the map of Notre Dame university and the image of buildings around the campus, as well as finding a suitable middle class suburban house and it's surroundings.
    I also used Street view for driving through West Lafayette and finding a diner and a hotel. I have met plenty of Americans.
    So I don't personally feel that I need to go and fly to Illinois to do the story justice. Would I LIKE to do it ? SURE ! If I had the money I would love to spend a week there. And I am sure I could add some richness to the story. But I don't believe that it will reveal any weakness in my story or writing as a result of not going.
    In my view the advent of Street view and web resources like it empower writers in a way that little else has in the last 100 years. It frees writers from the huge financial burden of having to do all that travel, when for most instances little or nothing ever comes through in the story to justify it now that Street View and other web resources are available.
     
  19. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    My guess is that the author in question sells many more books in the US than in the UK and Europe combined, so she is really writing for this market.

    p.s. Using 'risible' rather than 'laughable' to describe another's comments doesn't soften the insult (here in the US, anyway).
     
  20. Howard_B
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    I withdraw it in that case ... I don't mean to be insulting ... just passionate :D
     
  21. Gawler
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    Gawler Contributing Member

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    I admit I have never heard a US police officer say "Stay" but I have heard them say "Whoa, what you doing brah!" plenty of times.
     
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  22. Howard_B
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    Howard_B Active Member

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    From watching US television I thought their standard greeting was "Spreadem" !
     
  23. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I have that problem. :)
     
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  24. Gawler
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    Gawler Contributing Member

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    Hawaii is a lot different to New York, particularly on the smaller islands like Molokai or Lanai.
     
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