Ever had the feeling while traveling that you’d stumbled across something truly extraordinary? A beautiful unknown view or place that wasn’t in your guidebook and only you discovered? That’s how you’ll probably feel after using Globe Genie, a nifty project that lets you randomly “teleport” around the world using Google’s Street View feature.
What is Globe Genie exactly? It’s a project created by MIT grad student Joe McMichael. McMichael took the same software code that powers Google Street View and randomized it. Instead of letting you search for the street view of a place you already know, Globe Genie shows you a random view based on a list of continents chosen from a menu on the right. Choose where you want to “go,” and hit the “teleport” button, and suddenly you’re standing in a farm field in Hokkaido, Japan. Click teleport again. You’re along the coast in Marseille, France. Once again. A tree-lined highway in Mississippi. In other words, Globe Genie lets you experience the thrill of traveling to a new place without ever leaving your desk.
The problem with looking at photos and video of far-off destinations is they are on some level, predictable. You already have an image in your mind of the Eiffel Tower or a beach in Thailand before you get there. What makes Globe Genie truly addictive is that element of randomness – you literally have no idea where you might end up next. Combined with a truly massive database of places and you have a very interesting idea on your hands. Can looking at a computer replace a truly amazing trip? No way. But projects like Globe Genie are proving incredibly addictive for armchair travelers everywhere.