The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How do I get there?

I get a lot of spam sent to me voluntarily. Not the annoying charlatan stuff so much (I have filters and blockers for that) but the ads from various vendors with whom I have shopped successfully in the past. I tolerate these ads because they sometimes offer me a good deal on some item I want. I received one such ad yesterday that, as usual, did not offer any deal I couldn't simply ignore but did give me pause.

One item for sale was for a Garmin Nuvi 1450. It struck me as odd because it had a banner on it which read "Must have for back to school". I own a Nuvi 1300 and I find it quite useful to have on trips. But why would a GPS for travel be an important thing to have for school? I am at a loss for a rational explanation. Clicking on it reveals that the vendor site has no such admonition. What it does have is this sentence:

"The Garmin Nuvi 1450 Auto GPS is the perfect way to manage your long road trips or everyday commuting."

Everyday commuting???? Unless it can keep me updated in real time about accidents and traffic snarls, it would be superfluous for commuting. I used to drive to and from work pretty much mindlessly. That is, I made the turns needed and maintained the speed limits (more or less) along the way without much conscious thought. I used only a portion of my mental capacity to do that navigation. When I was a youngster in school, I only needed to know the location of the school on the first day I ever attended it. After that, I would locate the best route to and from and rarely needed to deviate from it. Same with work.

During what I laughingly call my "career", I moved a number of times. Each time, I would give myself a day or two in advance of when I was to report to my new office so that I could locate that office and learn what routes to it might be best. Locating a telephone office used to be very easy; you would look toward town and then travel toward the building that had microwave towers on its roof. That's changed, of course. But I always had the address and a phone number so I could call in and get directions (which often came with advice on which route was best). I could also consult a map. I knew (and still know) how to read a map.

Are these GPS units going to make maps go the way of the buggy whip? I used to drive across country (did it several times) without consulting a map. I would only need one to find some point inside a town or before I began my trip. Once the internet was open to all and sites like Mapquest sprung up, I didn't need a physical map or atlas at all.

Will the GPS unit have the same impact that the pocket calculator has had? Will it lead to the atrophy of our ability to navigate?

The GPS I use at the golf course has pretty much destroyed my ability to judge distance. I used to play a course in San Diego that had no distance cues at all. Most courses had (and still have) markers or poles that delineated 200 yards, 150 yards, and 100 yards from the center of the green on each hole. Some had distances also marked on sprinkler heads, making it even easier to estimate the distance you needed to hit the ball. But not the course I played most often. You could buy what is called a "yardage book" that gave you distances from easily recognized trees or buildings or hazards (like sand traps) along the course for each hole. I was cheap and never bought one. I just learned to judge them. On an unfamiliar course, I might look for some marker as a reference point. Way back when there were caddies, one of his duties was to provide reasonably accurate distances as well as to point out the less obvious hazards.

Now we use GPS units to do it all. And we have become dependent on them.

As "the Elder" (the one who speaks of floppy disks) says in that Konica ad, we've become "soft."

1 comment:

Pam Witzemann said...

You know this happens to every generation that is beginning to fade into the sunset. Yes, everything as we know it will pass away and the world our grandchildren live in will be completely different from our own. I also think that as long as technology progresses, subsequent generations will be softer. When I look at old photographs from my grandparents time, I can't help but be impressed by how tough they look! No one could have survived back then that was a soft and overwieght as many of us are...the times they are a changin'!