Friday, June 22, 2018

Lost in the Googleverse

Google maps is one of the most blatant examples of how technology creates an attrition in human abilities. The computer with its modern keyboard has all but killed cursive writing and similarly Google maps has eradicated not only the sense of direction (in those who were born with it), but the ability to figure out and parse where one is and find clever ways out of situations in which one is lost. People now use Google maps not just for driving but for simple walking and errands around a city like New York. God forbid you didn’t have your iPhone you might have to ask someone directions for a street like Great Jones which is not part of Manhattan's symmetrical grid. Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe was the ultimate survival manual and one of elemental documents of the age of discovery. Outside of sextons and simple telescopes most early transatlantic sailors had to hone their capacity to navigate using both intuition and an awareness of natural elements. Today, traits which are developed through everyday use and trial and error have become so foreign that without the latest guidance device most travelers are thrown into a state of utter panic. Deprived of their devices, they might actually have to look for landmarks, study topography and maybe even stoop to taking a look around before deciding which way to turn. However, these are precisely the traits that have been lost in the Faustian bargain with modernity.

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