GLOBAL

Surfing the Earth With Random Street View

GLOBAL
Jan 29, 2014 at 10:48 AM ET

This morning, I witnessed the expansive woodlands of Dala-järna, Sweden, the golden-brown brush of Gidgegannup, Australia, and aqua blue views of the Pacific from a ramshackle highway in a small coastal town in Peru.

No, I do not own a transporter (yet)—I was browsing on Random Street View, an extraordinarily addictive and fun site that allows you to aimlessly explore the Earth.

The site launched yesterday on Hacker News, the de facto bulletin board for the hacker community. Its creator, a developer that goes by the pseudonym “Hannez,” already has a legion of fans.

“This is the kind of thing that, 30 years ago, you could only dream about,” writes one commenter. “Stuff like this reminds me how much we take things like the Internet and Google Street View for granted, and sometimes you need to step back and think how amazing they are.”

To be fair, this isn’t the first site that does this. MapCrunch, for instance, offers a similar experience. GeoGuessr gamifies the concept by challenging you to figure out where you are and giving you points for correct answers. Then there’s Smwh.re (pronounced “somewhere”), which takes you on world journeys using personal photos, instead of Google’s images.

Of course, actually going to these places is probably a lot more fun. But for now, I’ll just click.

And click and click and click.

(All photos courtesy of Google.)