January 21, 2016

Quote of the Month: J.R.R. Tolkien

Images from Blastr and the Mont Blanc Google Street View, respectively.

“Not all those who wander are lost.” - J.R.R. Tolkien

By Megan G.

This famous quote from Tolkien, originally from his poem about the Lord of the Rings character Aragorn, illuminates a drive in those who wander about the world in search of their destiny.  Google Maps Street View adventures echo this grand idea of wandering in search of adventure, from their videos showcasing these amazing treks to the presentation of the Google Trekker program on the Google Maps website. 

Be the next Trekker.  Image from Google Maps.

The picture above makes it look like you’re about to become the overlord of the Grand Canyon, so Google is certainly going for an “epic” sense of self, here.  Who can blame them?  From the highest peak in the Alps to miniature wonderlands, these virtual treks on Google Street View can take us to some of the most amazing places on Earth. 

Google’s Adventure on Mont Blanc

Leave your fear of heights at the door!  The most recent adventure took Google Street View Trekkers to Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps.  Anyone with Internet access can now take a breathtaking journey with mountain climbers, extreme skiers, and even a guy named Kilian Jornet who likes to run up and down mountains really fast.

Kilian Jornet being crazy.  Image from Snow Brains.

As you might have guessed, not just anyone volunteers to take these steps into often dangerous, if beautiful, locations.  

Ueli Steck scaling Pointe Lachenal.
Image from Google Street View.
For instance, you wouldn’t find me clinging to the side of a wall with a pair of metal crab legs and a bright orange extension cord... 

…but, then again, I am riddled with cowardice and lethargy.  Even though I cannot understand why some people would take on such challenges, as the great J.R.R. Tolkien says, not all those who wander are lost (or clinically insane thrill seekers). 

Sometimes, those who wander seek out adventure for knowledge, inspiration, and education—all of these traits fit the mission of the Google Trekker Program. 

What is a Google Trekker?

Technically, the Google Trekker is the big robotic thingy strapped to the adventurers’ backs, but it also refers to the person holding the machine.  

Image from the 
Now, if you’re not a couch potato like me, you might be thinking at this moment, “that thing looks awesome, I like using metal crab legs for lots of things, where do I sign up?!” 

Change the idea of “signing up” to “applying,” and get started with your Google Street View Trekker Loan Program application.  It turns out that renting one of those camera-backpacks involves a college-app-esque process, meaning you cannot just expect Google to send you to remote places of the world for no good reason.  

Google actually wants you to have your own game plan ready to go.

Here is a paraphrased questionnaire of what information you should have at the ready… 
  1. Where do you want to collect images?
  2. Why are you interested in your proposed trek?
  3. Can you obtain the permission to capture images in your preferred location?
  4. What are your goals for the project?
  5. What is your proposed PR and marketing strategy for this project?
  6. Will you be marketing with Google Maps or Street View API?
  7. Are you seeking funding support from Google to conduct this project (beyond the gear required for the Trekker to function)?

Ah, so the Trekker program is less about having an awesome vacation and more about educating and marketing these various locations around the world—using your own resources, money, and influence.  This makes sense, as that is exactly what Google does in every other facet of their business (i.e., Google Search educates and advertises in the same moment, using the info and moolah from third parties.)

The ideal borrower of the Google Trekker would be a professional hiker, climber, or jedi knight commissioned by a “tourism board, non-profit, university, research organization” or another kind of third party with a larger goal beyond collecting imagery for the sake of a rad time.

Still, the application is open to anyone, so why not give it a shot? 

Mont Blanc.  Image from AndroidCentral.

Where would you wander?  If you had the time and resources, what Google Street View Trek would you like to plan?  Let the Tek Team know where your dreams take you in the comment section below. 

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