"Let Your Fingers do the Walking"


A few months ago I wondered aloud:

... Through the concerted action of smart mobs, we're getting closer to the day when we'll have an indexed, street-level view of every block, every store, every dorm. Even later, perhaps, a chronological view ...

I was surprised to see that Amazon's A9 search engine has already accomplished a lot of this, for ten US cities:

The most powerful technology A9.com invented for Yellow Pages is “Block View,” which brings the Yellow Pages to life by showing a street view of millions of businesses and their surroundings. Using trucks equipped with digital cameras, global positioning system (GPS) receivers, and proprietary software and hardware, A9.com drove tens of thousands of miles capturing images and matching them with businesses and the way they look from the street.

You can see a list of Greek restaurants, for instance, near your specified zip code, and what they look like from the outside. You can even wander up and down the street and see what's nearby. It doesn't quite seem like it's worth the monumental effort, but for dense cities, it might pay off. And it's pretty cool.

When you couple this with Google's new TV search, it's shaping up to be a genre-expanding year for the search engine business.