Google Street View launches in Cardiff, Swansea, London, Oxford, Birmingham and other cities

In the past few months, if you’ve seen a mysterious looking van gliding past your home, this could be the explanation.

The intriguing Google Street View has launched in 25 cities today, including Cardiff where I live and work.

I’d be interested to hear if you find anything noteworthy – just go to Google Maps and drag the yellow man on to the spot you want to view. It takes postcode, street names and location names.

It’s a funny aspect of people that they’re able to look anywhere – but usually people go straight to their own house and locality.

Here’s Juno Lounge (where we hold monthly Trydan cafe meet-ups to discuss the social web).

I was trying to date the pictures by looking for cues from Cardiff’s cultural scene. Gwdihw cafe bar appeared in this bit of Cardiff in late 2008 and Cafe Bar Europa took on new ownership and name in summer 2008. But I’m pretty sure the Visitor Centre vanished from Cardiff Bay a long time ago. Finally I happened on this poster site on Womanby Street, where most of the posters refer to events in June 2008.

Telegraph have an intro and photo gallery of big (mostly English) landmarks.

Roger Browning at The Guardian was captured on camera striding into his London home. Here’s a Times piece about the privacy issues from 2007, when the service launched in the USA.

Google’s press department have also slung out a brief list of ideas for uses of Street View for business. As with anything, it’s worth having a good play before even considering business applications. Besides, the big winner will be Google itself, with whole new data sets to draw eyeballs and clicks to their ads.