The famous adage that everyone has 15 minutes of fame probably didn't take cats into consideration when it was coined, but it certainly should now. After all, kitties dominate ever corner of the internet these days.
While not every feline has the potential to be as famous as Grumpy Cat or Lil' Bub, that doesn't mean you can't find them on the web. In fact, thanks to the new website IKnowWhereYourCatLives.com, it's now easier than ever to connect with cats around the world.
To date, over 7 million cats are featured on the site, which uses personal GPS coordinates from social channels to map and show the exact location of pet cats. Florida State University art professor Owen Mundy, the creator of the site, tells petMD he got the idea for the site when he was posting a picture of his young child to Instagram and "realized that the app had been recording and embedding the geographic coordinates of my backyard." Mundy says he was shocked because he "didn't explicitly give permission to share this data."
As a concerned parent and citizen, Mundy wanted to bring this matter to the forefront.
"I wanted to translate the creepiness of the experience in a way that was fun, but technically harmless," Mundy says. Rather than using the GPS data to share the identities of people, Mundy opted to use cats because, "Not only are cats an important part of internet culture, but in many ways they are loved like children."
So, if you've ever posted a picture of your cat at home with a cat-friendly hashtag, they'll likely show up on IKnowWhereYourCatLives.com.
"The images are less likely to explain where all the cats in the world exist than they are to describe how many photos of cats have been uploaded from each of these places," Mundy says. "The maps are perhaps a better representation of globalism, access to smart phones, and relaxed consideration for individual privacy."
While Mundy says that the site is meant to be as entertaining as it is educational, if you don't want your cat (and your whereabouts) to appear on the site, you can do that by removing the geolocations from your profile on both Instagram and Flickr.
Whatever your stance on the website is as cat parent or admirer, Mundy wants to get people on the internet thinking and talking.
"On one hand it's an intentionally fun website," he says. "On the other hand, it's a sophisticated visualization and experiment into how privacy is changing. It makes tangible the implications for everyone of a complicated technical process that allows a violation of our privacy. It makes us smile, think, and even act."
Image via Shutterstock
Read more: Medical Privacy for Pets