These Days: Thoughts on Covid-19

Henry Rollins Quote

So much has been going on – and yet not going on, interestingly – for the last 6 weeks. It’s been a very strange time for all of us, and I’m definitely no exception. With a head full of mixed priorities and trying to figure out that magic combination of things to do that will pull them all together, it’s been at times confusing, frightening and frustrating for a variety of reasons.

On one hand, there are externally focused issues, such as being the primary caregiver for an older parent who is basically hiding in her home in another state. There’s also an inundation of highly urgent projects and programs that need launching, all in emergency status with faster-than-the-speed-of-light timelines due to the nature of Covid and the high speed of change in the markets right now.

Then we have the internally focused issues, which if I’m to be completely honest are much more troubling than the stress of any of the immediate day-to-day work that needs to be done. I love fast-paced smart work that makes a difference. Tangible activities with tangible outcomes overcomes any stressors from quick turnarounds, immediate deadlines or any amount of multi-tasking.

It’s this time alone with your own thoughts and dare I say, insecurities that spring out of the quiet moments when there is no more immediate work to keep your mind busy. There has been a lot of introspection of the good and not-so-good kind during the last 6 weeks. Half of my mind reeling as I sit inside these apartment walls, thinking of a lifetime of choices and outcomes, efforts and inactivity, dreams, goals, and aspirations still yet to be fulfilled.

I suppose this kind of utterly extraordinary circumstance breeds these thoughts and misgivings – of both past and present choices as well as future prospects and dreams. One thing I have grappled with during this time is falling into that comfy old afghan of self-doubt and regret. It’s a snug old thing, always calling me into its cozy recognizable warmth – but it’s a deadly embrace. One that will suck all joy and hope from you if you aren’t careful.

So I’m making an active choice – EVERY DAY – to throw that old blanket off (maybe a trip through the washing machine will get that stench of self-pity out) and get moving. It’s not going to be easy, but when is anything that is amazing in life easy? A little self-forgiveness and a lot of one-step-in-front-of-the-other and we can all make it through this … and anything, to be fair.

We’ve got this!

How Street View is Chronicling Heritage, Arts and Culture

Sforza Castle in Milano

In the third in this series of “Things About Street View You Likely Don’t Know”, we get into a little known way Street View project dealing with Arts and Culture. While at the Google Street View summit this past year, another big topic of interest was how StreetView combined with Google Earth’s Voyager stories through the Arts & Culture team is chronicling some of the world’s most historic and noteworthy art and heritage sites. Google is going out and imaging these singular historic sites, art and artifacts with incredibly hi-res photography as well as capturing with Street View locations that have a significant place in history.

In regards to the historic locations around the world, StreetView, Google Arts & Culture and Google Earth’s teams are working to capture what they can as quickly as possible and luckily for the rest of us, in some cases, this has happened in the nick of time.

Not only does this give people from around the world the ability to appreciate and experience these treasures from anywhere, but this project could literally save the past for the future, if by at least preserving an exact representation of the original. They have locations captured in moments of time just years or on occasion even months before war, fire or unforeseen natural disasters struck and destroyed the original areas and artifacts.

Take the Brazilian National Museum which was destroyed by fire in 2018. Google Arts & Culture worked with the museum in 2016 utilizing the “Museum View” version of Street View to create a virtual tour that, although is not remotely a consolation for the 90% artifact loss that occurred from the fire, at least is a window into what is now lost.

Another great example of this is the Iraqi historic sites that have devastated by time and the rages of war. https://artsandculture.google.com/project/wmf-iraq Google Arts & Culture had undergone a significant project that involves mapping, 3D modeling and hi-res imaging to chronicle the indelible historical culture that is being lost.

They are working with one-of-a-kind artworks imaged so perfectly (think gigapixels) that it is possible to zoom in and see the every individual brushstroke of the paintings. The smallest of elements that even the artist’s family had never noticed before have been preserved, as in the case of the xxxx painting by xxxx, whose son didn’t even realize he was depicted with his father until shown the zoomed-in version of the painting once it was captured. 

There are everyday people capturing historic sites, such as the architecture and art inside ancient temples, and other places of worship around the globe, with just a personal insta360. Places of unsurpassed intrinsic value, which will now be memorialized at that very moment for historians and others to look back on, while the ravages of time continue to alter the actual locations.

There are so many ways this could be utilized to protect these creations for future admiration and study. You could perfectly 3D print the sculptures into almost perfect replicas of the originals for posterity or send out for traveling exhibits. You could capture historic site changes year over year to study the alterations from weather, entropy, human interaction and more. You could preserve cultural  on the brink.

How incredible it will be to look back through time and see the way these historic places and artifacts actually were before time too it’s toll.