Easter Eggs

Feb 9, 2009 11:37am

Go into Google Maps and enter the following address: 450 Sampsonia Way, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.  Click on Street View.  (Brief pause while you open a new window on your computer and give it a try.) It should work, but if not, you should find something like this: The elaborate little street fair you see was no accident.  A couple of local artists, Ben Kinsley and Robin Hewlett, set it all up last May with more than a hundred cheerful co-conspirators, and Google’s help.  There’s a YouTube VIDEO of them performing as Google’s mapping car came by (note the mast on top, which contains the multiple cameras for the Street View images).  Google says it had actually shot its Pittsburgh street views already, but agreed, since this was a "good opportunity," to come by again.  The company said it couldn’t guarantee that it would use the new images, but when Kinsley looked in November, there they were.  Google calls such things "Easter Eggs," and periodically lets them be hidden in their maps.  You used to be able, for instance, to get driving directions from New York to London — including one step: "Swim across the Atlantic Ocean: 3,462 mi."  It’s gone now. (Fair warning about all this, inspired by a commenter: a virtual Easter egg hunt, like a real one, can take time.  I hope you make sure you have some.) Kinsley, Hewlett et al turned their effort into a public art project called "Street with a View."  Poke around Sampsonia Way a bit, with their guidance; there’s a fair amount going on.  (Can you find the staged wedding?  Or the duel?)  The project has now been turned into a traveling exhibit near Washington. Google staffers say "Street With a View," is probably the most ambitious Easter egg to be found at the moment, but they’ve left others, including one at Google headquaters in Mountain View, California. And there’s something hidden in Google Earth, which is separate from the maps you find in your browser.  If you’ve downloaded Google Earth (it’s free) and never tried this, press Ctrl + Alt + A (or Command/Open Apple Key + Option + A on a Mac).  There are instructions HERE.  Hint: I once paid thirty bucks to buy much the same thing from Microsoft.

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