Random Teleporter.
March 2, 2014 10:27 AM   Subscribe

Random Teleporter. Random travel around the globe, via Streetview or 360 degree image.
posted by jokeefe (54 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
I played with this all day yesterday. Careful, it's addictive. And the world is often as not full of roads ... if traveled via Google Street View.
posted by philip-random at 10:30 AM on March 2, 2014

I landed in Aisén, Chile and it's so pretty I may spend the next hour just exploring that area.

Careful, it's addictive.

This is great fun, even in my phone. I'm almost afraid to try it on my laptop.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:42 AM on March 2, 2014

Does it always start you out next to a blue police box in London or was that TARDIS reference just a coincidence for me?

My next hop dropped me on a beach somewhere, and the next hop brought me to the South Pole, which took me a little bit to figure out what I was looking at. Then I wound up at "St. Paul's Dream Box" on Pitcairn Island and was off to Wikipedia to figure out what it was (no luck so far). I could easily see losing the rest of my day [month/year/lifetime] exploring this.
posted by mstokes650 at 10:54 AM on March 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Why is there a Tardis outside the frozen yogurt place?
posted by Old'n'Busted at 10:54 AM on March 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Old'n'Busted: "Why is there a Tardis outside the frozen yogurt place?"

For a moment I thought there might be a tardis at every location. Sad this isn't the case, but fun nonetheless. Also, you can tour the inside of it through street view. I had to bump back and forth on the street a couple times to get the arrow pointing towards it that clicks through to the inside tour.

Spoiler: It's' bigger on the inside.
posted by calamari kid at 11:11 AM on March 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

This seems like a nice way to find those streetview spots that look more like photographs. An example. I tried zooming in on the figure on the hill, but the detail isn't there.

Edit: It's a tree.
posted by cellphone at 11:22 AM on March 2, 2014

It jumped me to a place called Henderson Island, where the street view punctuates just how lonely a place it is -- facing forward, the sand is undisturbed. Facing backwards, a single trail of footprints from the guy carrying the streetview pack.

Sadly, even in a place that seems otherwise untouched, there's an epic crapload of plastic garbage washed up on the beach, half buried in the sand.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:23 AM on March 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ha! If I scroll backward far enough, there are places with two sets of footprints. It's like a living glurge. Jesus is on the side of the streetview dude.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:25 AM on March 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's not very random. Two thirds of the time you should be in the middle of ocean, and most of the rest you shouldn't be able to see anything built by a human.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:26 AM on March 2, 2014

most of the rest you shouldn't be able to see anything built by a human.

You do get that this is random Street View locations, e.g.: mostly roads?
posted by signal at 11:30 AM on March 2, 2014

I was randomly teleported to the same gym (?) in Antarctica twice.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 11:45 AM on March 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

What the? I just wound up in the gymnasium inside a National Science Foundation United States Antarctic Program building. I see a tuba in the corner.
posted by JaredSeth at 11:45 AM on March 2, 2014

Perfect timing, jeff-o-matic.
posted by JaredSeth at 11:46 AM on March 2, 2014

Careful, it's addictive.

This is what the internet used to be. Fun, random discoveries.
posted by jsavimbi at 11:48 AM on March 2, 2014 [4 favorites]

I think it's got a list of possible starting points - hitting Random repeatedly, I've seen the same place go past a couple times (Magadan Oblast, in my case). It might be a very long list, but it wouldn't surprise me if they'd scoured GMaps beforehand to generate a list of destinations instead of just sending you to a random location drawn from everywhere on Street View.
posted by wanderingmind at 12:02 PM on March 2, 2014

Great fun--I tend to do this kind of traveling a lot: country roads, small towns, etc. So I am delighted with this marvelous collection of places--the tardis is lagniappe! I haven't even been inside it yet.
posted by Anitanola at 12:08 PM on March 2, 2014

Got to say the first view landed me in Antarctica on top of a mountain. Very Star Trek-y feeling. Good fun.
posted by xtian at 1:51 PM on March 2, 2014

I wonder if that place on the left sells tacos.
posted by goethean at 2:33 PM on March 2, 2014

I too doubt the randomness of this tardis. Antarctica 4 times, Iceland 5 times, 3 oh god GHOSTS! or other melty people horrorshow.
posted by Jacen at 2:35 PM on March 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Maybe they mean "random", like arbitrary, rather than random random.
posted by goethean at 2:37 PM on March 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oman is a lot nicer than I had imagined.
posted by goethean at 2:44 PM on March 2, 2014

Wow, the Philippines look just like India.
posted by goethean at 2:50 PM on March 2, 2014

Jim Andrews (the creator of this thing) is a Facebook friend. It seems he's updating it on the fly. The start page is now an actual Teleporter.
posted by philip-random at 3:31 PM on March 2, 2014

They really need to work on their random place generator. Seems to be pining for Antarctica big time (over 10 times), then Brazil or some tiny island in the Pacific.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 3:39 PM on March 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

I believe Jim's monitoring this thread, so keep on with the critiquing ...
posted by philip-random at 3:59 PM on March 2, 2014

Did anyone else get a garage full of Saabs on an island in the North Atlantic?
posted by goethean at 4:07 PM on March 2, 2014

Ahhhhhh, frustrated. Where is the actual location of the plaza shot? It's a photo taken by Ann Paul but she herself has it mislabeled as "Arctic Circle" (nope). It's somewhere in Latin America. Pink buildings. Town hall (is that a US flag on the top?).
posted by chainsofreedom at 4:20 PM on March 2, 2014

Thanks for your interest. I am writing it; it's in progress at the moment. The actual algorithm is like this: when you press the "Teleport" button, the program calculates a random latitude and a random longitude. It then finds the nearest Google Maps panorama to that location. If the random location is in, say, Antarctica, then there are only a few Google Maps panoramas in Antarctica. But Antartica takes up quite a bit of the globe, so a random location in Antartica is not unlikely. Consequently, the program tends to visit some rather remote locations rather frequently.

Most recent version: http://vispo.com/mad220/maps/gmaps16.htm
posted by vispo at 4:29 PM on March 2, 2014 [13 favorites]

In that case I should point out that it's fun, when it does actually go to some place you haven't already been before.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 4:30 PM on March 2, 2014

I was under water at one point. Somewhere in the Philippines, I think.
posted by philip-random at 4:32 PM on March 2, 2014

"Ahhhhhh, frustrated. Where is the actual location of the plaza shot?" The map indicates the shot is from off-world. Interzone?
posted by vispo at 4:40 PM on March 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm coding a new feature in response to the comment here that it visits the same places too much. Am making it so that it only visits a place once in a given session.Thanks for the feedback.
posted by vispo at 4:58 PM on March 2, 2014

I expected random locations. It's only taking me to interesting places. Not interested.
posted by _aa_ at 5:00 PM on March 2, 2014

If there was Google panorama view info for every point on the planet, then you could do random locations in quite a convincing way. Of course there isn't, however. Instead, there are huge areas that have none or only one panorama. So they get shown frequently in a program that truly generates random locations.
posted by vispo at 5:04 PM on March 2, 2014

And that is kind of interesting. There are 'outposts' of the random, as it were, in Google map land.
posted by vispo at 5:07 PM on March 2, 2014

Are the panoramas a high-res version at a particular point in the normal street view?
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 5:16 PM on March 2, 2014

Thanks for your interest. I am writing it; it's in progress at the moment. The actual algorithm is like this: when you press the "Teleport" button, the program calculates a random latitude and a random longitude.

Ah, I was wondering, because a lot of the time I ended up in a coastal place. Which works I think. Most of the time it was a place I wanted to look around a bit. I think if it was randomizing among the known street view photos or terrestrial latitude/ longitude I think you'd spend a lot of time along random straight roads in uninteresting places, or random neighborhoods. That would be a different experience. But as it works now, the places were interesting enough to want to explore.

The other thing that's cool, is that at least 20% of the time, I was able to guess aPproximately where I was. The Puerto Vallarta waterfront, a place I'd been once 25 years ago, I identified immediately.

This is really great, I really love this. It works flawlessly on the iphone.
posted by Random Person at 5:23 PM on March 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

The resolution of the panoramas seem to vary considerably from panorama to panorama. I don't know if all the shots within a particular panorama are of the same resolution.
posted by vispo at 5:24 PM on March 2, 2014

There's a game at http://geoguessr.com , "Random Person", where you are plopped down somewhere relatively random and are asked to guess where you are. It's a lot of fun. That game was the inspiration for Teleporter. There are other programs on the net that take you somewhere 'random' in Google street view. People are sussing out the possibilities for interesting stuff in that vein. I am just getting a handle on the Google Maps API. I want to create more art with it. I can't say that Teleporter is terribly innovative cuz the feature has been played with a half dozen times by other people. But I like the simpleness of Teleporter and that it starts out in a 'real' teleporter.
posted by vispo at 5:31 PM on March 2, 2014 [4 favorites]

This new version does not visit locations it has already visited in the same session: http://vispo.com/mad220/maps/gmaps17.htm
posted by vispo at 6:25 PM on March 2, 2014

I just landed in a beauty salon in Kazakhstan. o_0
posted by jim in austin at 6:40 PM on March 2, 2014

Wow. Quite the party they are having at the old swimming hole in Venezuala.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 9:08 PM on March 2, 2014

the program calculates a random latitude and a random longitude.

When you say this, do you mean that each latitude is equally weighted? Because that would also explain the poles showing up so much. Latitude 90° S is a single point at the south pole, and the equator is 6,378 km. If both latitudes are equally likely even though one covers much more land, you can see why it might seem the poles are showing up more than people expect.

I'm afraid I can't figure out right now the math to compensate for this.
posted by RobotHero at 9:10 PM on March 2, 2014

Ha. Yes I also saw that picture of the party at the swimming hole.

Here is a different way to pick a panorama. Imagine that each available panorama is numbered uniquely. If there are 10000 panoramas available, then suppose each panorama has a number from 1 to 10000. Picking a random number from 1 to 10000 is then a matter of picking a random panorama.

If 90% of the panoramas are from the USA, then you will select 90% of the time a panorama from the USA.

Contrast that with what I did. I selected a random location on the planet. And then I found the closest available panorama to that location. If I already showed that panorama, then I pick another random location on the planet and find the closest panorama to that location. Etc

This way, what I show has a stronger international feeling to it than what you'd get if you simply selected a random panorama, cuz I expect most of the panoramas originate in the USA.
posted by vispo at 9:39 PM on March 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

vispo thank you for dropping by to talk about the site, and thank you for making it-- I've been loving the feeling of materializing in various places.
posted by jokeefe at 9:54 PM on March 2, 2014

Is there a way to share the locations?
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 10:06 PM on March 2, 2014

Thanks, Jokeefe. I enjoy making this sort of art and I enjoy talking about it also. Here is something I wrote about computer art: http://netartery.vispo.com/?p=1174

And here is an interactive, generative work I made in HTML5: http://vispo.com/aleph .
posted by vispo at 10:10 PM on March 2, 2014

Hi Mei. It occurred to me also, just a few minutes ago, that it would be nice to be able to share the locations. I'll have to think about that. Thanks.
posted by vispo at 10:12 PM on March 2, 2014

Ha! I just read a question in Ask Me about trying to feed a picky 5-year-old while visiting Azerbaijan, and then came here and was teleported to Azerbaijan. I love those little serendipities.
posted by taz at 1:55 AM on March 3, 2014

Does anyone else here play the "get home from here" game? Basically you get (or someone gives you) a random unknown place in google maps, and you have to use only the information in the streetview to figure out how to get to your house, as if you had just woken up from a blackout of some kind. The rules vary-- the way I play, I assume I have a credit card and ID but that I am otherwise on foot.

Sometimes it's surprisingly easy, sometimes it's really hard (especially in a rural place with signage in a language you don't speak.)
posted by blnkfrnk at 10:45 AM on March 3, 2014

Interesting, blnkfrnk. You use the arrow keys and click to travel 'by foot'. How do you travel 'by air'?
posted by vispo at 11:10 AM on March 3, 2014

The most recent version of Teleporter is at http://vispo.com/go . It has a 'Share' button which, when clicked, opens up an alert dialog box with a URL you can copy and paste. The URL opens Teleporter at the panorama you were viewing when you clicked the Share button. Also, when you click the marker on the map, address info appears. And in map view, there's a cross-hair symbol that stays in the middle of the screen. When you click the 'Street' button to return to street view, you go where the cross-hair is located (or nearest available Google Maps panorama).
posted by vispo at 7:51 AM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

Cool! This seems like a nice, soothing place to share: Ara Tapu, Takitumu District, Cook Islands.

Note that selecting and copying with the mouse doesn't work (for me, in a couple of browsers), but you can just Ctrl C on the location pop up window and it will work.
posted by taz at 6:46 AM on March 8, 2014

Thanks, Taz. I looked into a Facebook Share button. It's easy to create a Facebook Share button to share a static URL like http://vispo.com/go . But it looks a lot harder to create a Facebook Share button that will code something different depending on what panorama you're viewing such as http://vispo.com/go/?la=-54.154236&lo=-36.767002&he=-91.27&pi=0.70&zo=1 . I also tried doing something other than an alert dialog box. But the results on both counts weren't really any better than the alert dialog box so I just reverted to that. You can't share it from most mobile devices, I expect. Nor, as you say, perhaps on some desktop(?) browsers. No good alternative yet.
posted by vispo at 9:36 PM on March 10, 2014

« Older You can call Bruce Springsteen "King B"...   |   Digital obsolescence is more deadly than degrading... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments