GPS: Expensive, bad for you | Bleader

Friday, May 9, 2008

GPS: Expensive, bad for you

Posted By on 05.09.08 at 02:10 PM

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The one thing I would add to Eric Zorn and Mary Schmich's discussion of GPS technology: for all that is good and interesting in this world, don't buy a GPS system. As the wonderful science blogger Jonah Lehrer puts it quite simply, GPS sucks.*

*Obviously for things like mapping, emergency services, and, I dunno, circumnavigation, GPS is a boon, but normal human beings should probably use maps. It totally doesn't surprise me that the directions given by GPS systems, particularly for walking, aren't very good; teaching a computer how to do something using rules that are supposed to be applicable for everywhere at any time leads to certain sacrifices that a person wouldn't have to make in figuring out one route to one place at one time. In the rare long-distance driving that I do I've gotten different routes from different services (yes, I get different estimates and compare; what?), some of which have been notably inferior on a basic logistical level, to say nothing about aesthetics. E.g. if you're going from Virginia to Chicago, Google says to take Highway 35 through Ohio, Yahoo's recommendation is I-64 to Louisville, and MapQuest's suggestion leads you through Cincy. I say take Highway 52 because it follows small towns along the Ohio, and because interstates make me a sociopath. (I was obsessed with maps as a kid.)

Anyway, time to go wash my hands and count the tiles in the bathroom.


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