Actually I thought I’d write something here because of a sentence in my previous post!
What do I mean by this? Well it’s a bit of a swizz really, and apologies for the implied sexism here – of course, I meant this ironically.
I think most people I know who have an interest in maps have viewed SatNav with a mix of enthusiasm and also a sense of disappointment. Why? Surely it’s been the next step on the road of mapping… digital maps and the ability to use routing algorithms for the general good of all. But is it?
Apart from so many stories of SatNavs routing folk down tiny roads in the middle of knowhere, dead-ends and rather deep fords across water… there’s an overriding problem as I see it.
Where previously, to avoid traffic, roadworks, incidents etc, it relied on genuine ingenuity of a navigator, it’s now possible for everyone to have acces to the same knowledge. It actually required either effort or local knowledge to find alternative routes around problem areas, so if you weren’t a local, or weren’t prepared to put the work into alternative routing, you had to sit it out. Am I being elitest here? Well, perhaps… but not really, because anyone with an accompanying Collins or AA road map would have been able to manage; by applying themselves to it and, by nature of the task, learning a little bit about their surroundings. Now, it’s just a case of clicking a couple of buttons and Bob’s your uncle.
Am I sounding a bit of a mapping Luddite? Yes, possibly… it’s almost the dumbing down of mapping that concerns me, perhaps common to anything where technology has lent a large helping hand.
However… I’ve got to balance the above by saying that, in many ways, they’re actually a good thing. It’s great to know how long it’s going to take to get to a certain place, or to get an idea of current traffic flow – if you’ve got it available to you (often via a subscription). This is where you get genuine advantage – I might know the road, and what time of day I don’t want to go to certain places, but are there any exceptions at the minute?
So let’s the this straight – SatNavs have their uses, but let’s not lose the capability to map read. There’s something that’s a little bit of fun in getting from A to B under your own direction – don’t rely on the computer all the time.