Ignore the GPS. That Ocean Is Not a Road.

Excerpt from this article:

Earlier this month, Noel Santillan, an American tourist in Iceland, directed the GPS unit in his rental car to guide him from Keflavik International Airport to a hotel in nearby Reykjavik. Many hours and more than 250 icy miles later, he pulled over in Siglufjordur, a fishing village on the outskirts of the Arctic Circle…

Mr. Santillan shouldn’t be blamed for following directions. Siglufjordur has a road called Laugarvegur, the word Mr. Santillan — accurately copying the spelling from his hotel booking confirmation — entered in lieu of Laugavegur, a major thoroughfare in Reykjavik. The real mystery is why he persisted, ignoring road signs indicating that he was driving away from Iceland’s capital. According to this newspaper, Mr. Santillan apparently explained that he was very tired after his flight and had “put his faith in the GPS.”

Faith is a concept that often enters the accounts of GPS-induced mishaps. …

If we’re being honest, it’s not that hard to imagine doing something similar ourselves. Most of us use GPS as a crutch while driving through unfamiliar terrain, tuning out and letting that soothing voice do the dirty work of navigating. Since the explosive rise of in-car navigation systems around 10 years ago, several studies have demonstrated empirically what we already know instinctively. Cornell researchers who analyzed the behavior of drivers using GPS found drivers “detached” from the “environments that surround them.” Their conclusion: “GPS eliminated much of the need to pay attention.”

We seem driven (so to speak) to transform cars, conveyances that show us the world, into machines that also see the world for us… Could society’s embrace of GPS be eroding our cognitive maps?

Advertisements