The story is here, and begins:
Google Inc. today officially unveiled its new Street View service for Thailand, releasing online a vast collection of panoramic street-level images of the country.
That means that anyone with a Web connection can now view high resolution photos of everything from Bangkok street food stalls to the ornate spires of the city’s Grand Palace. There are also images of the northern city of Chiang Mai and the southern beach resort of Phuket.
Please check out the story and share the love, if you like it.
You can go to Google Street View for Thailand directly here.
(Image: Google Street View.)
Here are a few non-Thailand related links that I wanted to pass along, just quickly, before the week comes to a close:
- “How Google Can Help Newspapers,” by Google CEO Eric Schmidt. And some commentary from Snarkmarket.
- “Shades of Meaning,” an NYT review of Asterios Polyp, a graphic novel by David Mazzucchelli. Not (all that) new, but new to me.
- More NYT: the Goal blog has a Q. & A. With Simon Kuper, Author of “Soccernomics”. The book’s subtitle: “Why England Lose, Why Germany and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey — and Even India — Are Destined to Become the New Kings of the World’s Most Popular Sport.”
That’s it. See you next week.
As this Youtube video (embedded below) explains, Google Maps Thailand now incorporates data from Bangkok’s public transport organizations and suggests modes of transport other than driving.
I can’t verify it yet, but the new functionality should allow users to get walking, driving, and mass transit directions to various destinations in the Thai capital.
Some links that have caught my eye of late:
As the year comes to a close, it’s time to look at the big events, memorable moments and emerging trends that captivated us in 2008. As it happens, studying the aggregation of the billions of search queries that people type into the Google search box gives us a glimpse into the zeitgeist — the spirit of the times. We’ve compiled some of the highlights from Google searches around the globe and hope you enjoy looking back as much as we do.
— WSJ: “Asia’s Tourism: Boon and Bane: Low-Cost Countries With Popular Spots Better Off Than Others” ((There’s this about Thailand, which should come as no surprise: “Tourism in Thailand, which in 2007 had 14.8 million visitors, naturally is getting seriously impacted by political unrest that for the past week severed Bangkok’s busy air links with the world. While the city’s two airports are now expected to be functioning normally by Friday, the way hundreds of thousands of people have been stranded or inconvenienced by the shutdowns will have a lingering impact on tourist numbers. Dozens of countries have issued warnings to avoid traveling to Thailand.”))
Recession in major economies around the world has hit Southeast Asia’s pivotal tourism industry, but increased domestic and regional travel by cash-squeezed travelers based in Asia means some countries will be hurt less than others.
Governments around the region are cutting forecasts for income as both long-haul tourists and business travelers get increasingly cost-conscious. That is a problem because tourism accounts for a hefty 6% or more of most economies in Southeast Asia.
Still, some low-cost countries with attractive tourist spots and large homegrown populations should lose out less.
— Daily Routines: How writers, artists, and other interesting people organize their days. Sample entry: Truman Capote ((One of my favorite Capote passages, from The Grass Harp: “Below the hill grows a field of high Indian grass that changes color with the season: go see it in the fall, late September, when it has gone red as sunset, when scarlet shadows like firelight breeze over it and the autumn winds strum on its dry leaves sighing human music, a harp of voices.”))
What are some of your writing habits? Do you use a desk? Do you write on a machine?
I am a completely horizontal author. I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I’ve got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis. No, I don’t use a typewriter. Not in the beginning. I write my first version in longhand (pencil). Then I do a complete revision, also in longhand. Essentially I think of myself as a stylist, and stylists can become notoriously obsessed with the placing of a comma, the weight of a semicolon. Obsessions of this sort, and the time I take over them, irritate me beyond endurance.
— Foreign Policy: The Top 10 Stories You Missed in 2008. They are:
1. The Surge in Afghanistan Starts Early
2. Colombian Coca Production Increases
3. The Next Darfur Heats Up
4. The United States Helps India Build a Missile Shield
5. Russia Makes a Play for Africa
6. Greenhouse Gas Comes from Solar Panels
7. Shanghai Steel Fails Basic Safety Tests
8. Aid to Georgia Finances Luxury Hotel in Tbilisi
9. For the First Time, U.S. Citizen Convicted of Torture Abroad
10. American Company Sells ‘Sonic Blasters’ to China
— An interesting motorcycle story from the New York Times’s Handlebars section: “To Attract New Riders, Motorcycles Go Shiftless“: ((A thought: does the barrier to entry presented by the fact that large motorcycles require their operators to understand how to use a clutch and shift gears keep unqualified/unsafe drivers off the road?))
Car sales, already in a deep funk, would probably be slower yet if automakers decided to offer no alternative to manual transmissions.
Makers of street motorcycles have largely painted themselves into that corner. And with the effects of stalled credit markets flattening out a 14-year streak of steady growth — despite the allure of good gas mileage in a wobbly economy — it’s no surprise that manufacturers are mounting an effort to introduce more rider-friendly bikes.
Makers as big as Honda, the world’s largest, and as specialized as Aprilia, a style-centric Italian brand, are working to eliminate the perceived obstacles of shifting gears and mastering a clutch with new models that let riders simply gas it and go.
— New York Times: “Holiday Books: Travel”
— And last but not least, a wonderful collection of book scans on Flickr: “Nostalgia for the Scholastic Book Club, circa ’60’s & ’70’s”
Now that the airports have re-opened here in Thailand ((The latest news from Bangkok: The revered Thai King — the world’s longest reigning monarch — failed to deliver his annual birthday eve speech on Thursday. There was a huge amount of anticipation regarding his remarks, as he was expected to weigh in on the ongoing Bangkok protests. The King, who turned 81 yesterday, was apparently too ill to speak. And yesterday, exiled prime minster Thaksin Shinawatra’s ex-wife returned to the country. For an overview of the situation in Thailand, I suggest this recent AP story: “Travelers leave behind a Thailand still in crisis“)), I wanted to point out an intriguing tool: StateStats.
The site allows you to compare Google search patters for various US states; the terms are also linked with other demographic data ((But take the demographic info with a grain of salt. From the site: “Be careful drawing conclusions from this data. For example, the fact that walmart shows a moderate correlation with “Obesity” does not imply that people who search for ‘walmart’ are obese! It only means that states with a high obesity rate tend to have a high rate of users searching for walmart, and vice versa…”))
Some search terms that caught my eye include:
In searching for Southern food, I noticed that fried chicken is a popular search term in the south, as is pecan pie. And it’s no surprise to note that South Carolina is the clear winner in searches for grits, shrimp and grits, and Frogmore stew ((Here’s more info on Frogmore Stew.)). On the other hand, vegan is a popular query in Oregon and Vermont.
Media and the Internet
The Wire is a popular search term in Maryland (the show is based in Baltimore), while Sopranos is big in New Jersey, New York, and surrounding states. Various Web/tech-related search terms, meanwhile, are especially popular in the West and in New York. Twitter is big in the Pacific region, in New England, and in Texas (though the more generic microblogging is huge in California, as is WordPress); Flickr is big on the West coast and in New York; and Tumblr is especially popular in New York.
Other terms worth a look: Soccer is a popular term in the Northeast, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington, while Real Madrid and Barcelona are both popular terms in California and Virginia. And in other long-running football (soccer) derbies, Virginia is also prominent: check out River Plate and Boca Juniors.
Searches for some of the Andean nations reflect an interesting pattern: Bolivia is a popular term in Virginia and Florida, while Ecuador is big in New York and the mid-Atlantic. (New York is home to many Ecuadorian immigrants.)
And, last but not least, Newley (pictured above) is a popular search term in New York, Texas, and California. ((I suspect that these are not searches for newley.com, but for Anthony Newley. Or perhaps they’re misspellings of the adverb newly.))
(StateStats link via Kottke, where you can find a list of other revealing queries.)
Google’s new LIFE photo archive is an impressive online collection of recently-digitized images dating back to the 1750s.
A search for “1975,” the year I was born, yields some interesting results. Some notable TIME covers from 33 years ago that prove there’s nothing new under the sun: “Can Capitalism Survive?” (see: the global money crisis) and — better yet — “Rebates and Smaller Cars: Detroit’s Big Gamble,” pictured above (see: the the proposed Detroit bailout).
Same with 1948, the year my parents were born.
— “Typical 1920s big city street…”
— “Three women in classic 1920’s attire…”
— “The 1920 Yale News Board magazine edit staff…”
— “Model wearing fashionable satin dress and coat very indicative of 1920’s style.”
–“3rd Ave. elevated railroad running alongside the Bowery.”
You can find more info about the LIFE photo archive on the Google blog:
The Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination; The Mansell Collection from London; Dahlstrom glass plates of New York and environs from the 1880s; and the entire works left to the collection from LIFE photographers Alfred Eisenstaedt, Gjon Mili, and Nina Leen. These are just some of the things you’ll see in Google Image Search today.
We’re excited to announce the availability of never-before-seen images from the LIFE photo archive. This effort to bring offline images online was inspired by our mission to organize all the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. This collection of newly-digitized images includes photos and etchings produced and owned by LIFE dating all the way back to the 1750s.
Only a very small percentage of these images have ever been published. The rest have been sitting in dusty archives in the form of negatives, slides, glass plates, etchings, and prints. We’re digitizing them so that everyone can easily experience these fascinating moments in time. Today about 20 percent of the collection is online; during the next few months, we will be adding the entire LIFE archive — about 10 million photos.