Web map that shows a collection of Google Street View pins in the middle of the ocean. They are mostly 360º images uploaded by users, instead of captured by Google, but they share the same database and are equally public in Street View.
The base map was customized for this purpose and it shows the bathymetry (estimated depth of the ocean) instead of the continents. The data was categorized into underwater shots, cruises, islands or beaches and boats.
This was the final project for the class "All Maps Lie" taught by Joey K. Lee at ITP, Spring 2020.
I started out this project by paying attention to how the weather could be explored through Google Street View. Specifically I was looking for manifests of invisible phenomena such as the wind. Other visible weather events are usually removed from the google database, you won’t find a snowy street or a rainy day.
In the process of searching for elements that materialize the wind, I looked for trees, flags and sails (among others) that were blowing in some direction. While searching for windy elements, I naturally went to the coast. And noticed that in some cases, the yellow person could land in the middle of the ocean.
Sometimes it looked like a GPS glitch that positioned a room far from its location. But there are some kind of rooms that could be floating, for example, inside a ship. These places that you can go in, are not the same as the ones from a classic street views, but 360 panorama images that any user can upload to the same database.
Since these images are mostly produced by fancy equipment owned by fancy people, most of them are taken inside fancy cruises.
And since they are not uploaded by Google, many don’t automatically blur faces. I’m guessing, that there is some confusing process in which users just want to see their images and end up sharing them publicly without being entirely aware of.
Technology has also created fancy cameras that can capture a 360 panorama even underwater. I was able to enjoy the wonders of the sea from my desk during lockdown and wanted to share my findings. Using the StreetView Mapper tool I exported a GeoJSON with all of them so I could put them in a map of the ocean, that would focus on the masses of water as the main element instead of a plain blue background. I found out that the information from the ocean is not even close as rich as the land, but there is a thing called bathymetry which intends to map the ocean by its apparent depth.
I used the Mapbox Studio to create my own base maps that enhances this data and ignores the land, to have a look and feel from a 15th century navigation map, but overlapped with today’s consumer ways of sea exploration.
Finally I embedded the streetview panorama into the popups for each marker so that one could explore them. I decided to make them round so that you feel like in a submarine or a in a cruise and are watching this from a porthole.
Lastly, I divided what I found into five categories, first the blue pins have every underwater panorama which include from coral reefs to shipwrecks. The yellow are all of the cruises, purple is for smaller boats, and even though islands and beaches are not precisely in the ocean, I included them as part of this ecosystem, in green, specially the very remote ones that almost blend within the sea. The red pins are for ‘other’, things I found like a heliport, an off shore wind farm, or an oil extraction cranes.