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Google Fauxtog: Disrupting Street Photography


Google recently announced an ambitious new project*, Google Fauxtog.

A mashup (of sorts) of Google Street View and the little-used Google Panoramio, Google Fauxtog will create the world’s most extensive database of street photography, images that may be used in advertising and marketing.

Google sees a huge opportunity here, as the Cloud has an insatiable appetite for photos to accompany news stories, blog posts, and memes. The market, currently dominated by microstock houses like iStockPhoto.com and traditional players like Getty Images, is prime for disruptive innovation. And that’s exactly what Google plans to do.

Inspired by the Infinite Monkey Theorem, Google will populate the Fauxtog database using a team of 10,000 trained monkeys. The monkeys, armed with cameras, will descend upon a city and shoot millions of photos at random. Once uploaded to the Fauxtog database, a sophisticated editing algorithm will select the best photos, apply exposure and color corrections, and edit out any errant monkeys captured in the frame.

“We thought about using human photographers, but they are very fickle, requiring things like payment, attribution, and respect.” says Google spokesman Wesson Crisco. “By our calculations, it will take our team of monkeys three days in a single city to produce a body of photographs equal to anything that a team of Magnum photographers could produce in a year. And there are no licensing or silly issues of attribution to deal with. And no egos. And the photos are ours, all ours.” Crisco added while rubbing his hands together (he claims it was eczema.)

To appease animal rights activists, the monkeys will receive full health benefits, fed three square meals per day, checked regularly for ticks, and in the evenings will be shown a screening of a special version of King Kong where Kong and Fay Wray live happily ever after.

Google will be piloting Google Fauxtog in selected cities before rolling it out worldwide. The first camera-wielding monkey horde is scheduled to descend upon San Francisco in January. The monkeys are currently being housed and trained on a barge in San Francisco Bay.

* aren’t all Google projects ambitious?


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