These streets we (virtually) walk

Google Maps Street View continues to be a very cool idea with all sorts of mindless fun to be had digging up interesting, weird, or entertaining sightings.

For a degree of coolness beyond the Google approach, take a look at the way MapJack handles the same idea, but renders it even more enjoyable through the simple addition of a little minifig dude and some nice UI work.

If you're a Torontonian, the next plane of cooliosity is reached by checking out what they're doing at VirtualCity.ca. Deeply groovy - although they really need to update some of their imagery (the ROM Crystal still looks like a construction site in their shots).

There's something strangely enjoyable about virtually "strolling" through neighbourhoods you know so well. Nice that so many of the photos in their database were taken on bright, sunny days - I could have done with a dose of this site a few weeks ago, when we were still clutched in the grey, dismal heart of that long winter.

Of course, all of these sites lack one killer feature I'd love to see. Imagine looking at a particular street or landmark you know and thinking - "huh - I've got a much better photo than that" or "nice, but what does it look like at night?"

That's one of the paths the guys at PlanetEye could end up evolving down, I guess. If enough people submit enough photos from enough locations, they could potentially end up offering a similar service.

The PlanetEye approach is different, though - focused on providing a richer service. Virtually wandering the streets of Chaing Mai on MapJack is fun for a few minutes, but if I'm thinking of actually visiting a place, I really want other layers of info laid over the top - hotels, restaurants, bars, places of interest - plus recommendations from friends or local experts, ratings and - yes - photos and videos of the best places to go.

Macon Leary would love all this stuff.