Many thanks to Ben Whitehouse for introducing me to two great examples of people using Google Street View for a virtual trip down Memory Lane.
The above film sees Dean Shareski (‘inspired by Doug Peterson, who was inpsired by ZeFrank that then inspired Stephen Downes and others’), using Google Street View to virtually return to his childhood home of Morden, Manitoba. The landmarks quickly invoke old memories for David, who uses Google Maps Satellite View, Street View and old photographs to simply tell his tales of hockey playing, piano lessons, sunburn and exploration.
David finds the experience draws up ‘lots of fond memories’ and he encourages others to do the same:
‘I find it interesting to find out where people grew up and the spaces and places where they experienced childhood.’
ZeFrank found these stories just as interesting, so created the project A Childhood Walk to encourage readers to contribute their own. The instructions are simple, and could easily be taken as the basis for something similar this side of the water:
- Think of a walk that you would regularly take as a child; to a bus stop, to a friend’s house, along a paper route, along a trail through the woods.
- Locate the beginning of that walk in Google Street View and move along the same route that you used to take. If your walk is not available on Google Street View, just try to imagine yourself going on that walk.
- From time to time stop and look around you and try to focus on what it feels like to take that walk. If a memory of that moment comes to mind, write it down. Take a screenshot of that picture.
The results are beautiful screenshots of mundane-looking places of personal importance to people, whose snippets of memories are quoted. They tell us snapshot stories that are funny, sad and poignant. Take the time to click through the slideshow if you can.
For a hyperlocal site, this method of returning to a place and telling the stories of the memories it holds has great potential. Some local websites, such as the Kington Blackboard, find that people who have moved away visit the site to check-in on their old hometown and catch up on the local goings-on. Stuart Herbert in South Wales told me that most of the people who have engaged with his Merthyr Road Project are people who grew up in that area but resettled elsewhere.
Having those ex-residents revisit the community and tell stories of their memories in this way could help them actively participate rather than merely watch from afar, and result in some lovely creative content for your hyperlocal website.