July 31, 2010

Even the Google Streetview camera respects Baarle’s Belgian borders

Filed under: History,Weird by Branko Collin @ 12:51 pm

Baarle is a town in the Netherlands … and Belgium. It contains 39 Belgian enclaves on Dutch soil and 5 Dutch enclaves on Belgian soil, and some of them are inside each other, so that you get “this whole ridiculous Russian Doll situation,” to quote New Zealand’s fourth most popular folk parody duo.

The dashed line you see in the photo above is one of the borders, and as you can see, the Google Streetview car refuses to drive onto Belgian territory. I am not sure why that is, but perhaps it is because Belgian copyright law prohibits the publishing of photos of architecture.

A pity really, because otherwise you could have taken a virtual tour of one of the politically strangest towns in the world.

See also: Murder on the border.

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November 22, 2009

Roundabouts of the world

Filed under: Photography by Branko Collin @ 1:50 pm

A rotonde is a roundabout in Dutch, so when Tijs van den Boomen and Peter Jonker set out to create a website about roundabouts and the often ugly art that is in their centres, they of course called it rotondologie.nl. (The Flemish say rondpunt.)

Rotondologie.nl has pictures, videos and stories about roundabouts from all over the world, but you can hardly blame them for paying extra attention to the Netherlands. The website is clunky at times—rather than showing you a whole story at once you get little Javascript arrows with which to scroll, even if there is nothing to scroll towards—but if you click the big Collectie button, you get a nice big site map listed by country, province and so on.

Trendbeheer unearthed a quote from the site about a Doesburg roundabout that exemplifies the wrongness of moral rights (a part of copyright):

“I thank God that [the centre piece] is not art,” alderman Fred Jansen told De Gelderlander. “If it had been, we would not have been allowed to touch it for sixty years. Everybody thought it was garbage, citizens, entrepreneurs and visitors.”

(Photo of a roundabout in Venray by Google Streetview, immortalised because this is presumably the location where the Streetview car made an infraction that caused a police car to stop it two blocks further)

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August 19, 2009

Biologist creates own ‘Streetview’ of Spitsbergen town

Filed under: Photography,Science by Branko Collin @ 7:59 am

Biologist Maarten Loonen from Groningen figured that it might take a while before the Google Streetview cars and bikes venture deep within the Arctic circle.

His solution was to whip out the old camera and make his own “street view” of Ny-Ă…lesund, Spitsbergen. The round the clock daylight currently available there undoubtedly helped make the job easier. The result is a collection of 3,000 photos, according to Bright (Dutch), and a number of videos. Biologist Loonen took a picture every 10 metres inside the village and every 30 metres outside it.

Spitsbergen, meaning Craggy Island Mountains, has a Dutch name despite being Norwegian territory because it was ‘discovered’ by Dutch explorer Willem Barentsz. He was looking for the Northern passage to the East and died trying.

(Source photos: arcticstation.nl.)

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July 21, 2009

Vote for the next Google Street View target

Filed under: Bicycles,Dutch first by Branko Collin @ 9:16 am

Google has had a tricycle custom built to take photos in locations that Street View cars and vans have difficulty accessing. They already had the trike take pictures in Italy and the United Kingdom, and now it is heading to the Netherlands.

If you like, you can vote which Dutch locations will get the Street View treatment, candidates include the old Parliament buildings, the Efteling theme park, and the Scheveningen boulevard which sports the only pleasure pier of the country.

(Link: Algemeen Dagblad. Photo of an Efteling dragon by Jeroen Kransen, some rights reserved)

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