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Are Sat-Nav Systems Becoming Information Overload?

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the pothole-under-right-wheel-in-forty-two-centimeters dept.

GUI 186

curtS writes "The Economist's tech editor reviews the ever-more-detailed assistance of mobile GPS devices, and wonders if the attention-sucking visual complexity isn't more trouble than it's worth. He contrasts the simplicity of London's Underground map (not directionally accurate but visually easy to understand) and his own habit of dimming the display and using the audio commands for guidance."

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No (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30423518)

Silly writings in economist journals are though.

.no (2, Funny)

Dance_Dance_Karnov (793804) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423520)

no more than a map I suppose

Re:.no (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30423544)

These system are helping me so much that there is a lot of space for trouble until it is more trouble than it's worth.

Re:.no (1)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423906)

My TomTom is a godsend. Id be lost without it.

Re:.no (1)

zennyboy (1002544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424152)

Since I moved to Spain from UK last year,

Re:.no (1)

zennyboy (1002544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424184)

Since I moved to Spain from UK last year, between finding destination (Google Earth) and driving there (iGo), when driving I rarely know WHERE I am or WHERE the destination is. Always get there though :-)

Re:.no (2, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424102)

I would argue that. Rand McNally road atlases were my constant companion for years. It's hard to recall how my internal mapping and/or memory of Rand McNally evolved in the first couple years - but today, I can navigate anywhere on the North American continent (minus Mexico) without a map. I can leave my house, and go to any major city without referencing a map at all. Some small town, I don't know of? Ten minutes with that atlas, and I can drive to it without looking again. To find an address, I'll check the map just short of the city.

Those GPS things? Personally, I don't like them - they want to hold your hand all the way across the continent. Every turn, every fuel stop, every restaurant. When I travel, I want to make the decisions, not have MapQuest, or anyone else decide which ramp to exit or enter the interstate on. Travel is supposed to be an adventure - let me decide when, where, and how.

For fun, I've gone off route many times, just to see new country. I've seen mountains, valleys, and rivers that few Americans ever thought about seeing, because I took the less beaten path, down country roads. And, food. Fast Food Americana just sucks. I went north into Tennessee one early one morning, topped a small mountain, and found a hole in the wall restaurant. I got a real southern breakfast, for half the price of any chain restaurant, and 45 minutes of chat from some old dude who looked like he might have served in the Civil War. (He might even have been the truck driver who delivered dirt for the day of creation!)

GPS is distracting as all hell when you do make a "wrong turn". Rand McNally just sits on the seat until I ASK for his advice.

Of course, I'll admit - mapreading was pretty much a lost art before GPS technology came out. You can stop in any truck stop in America, and find that 2/3 of the drivers can't read Rand McNally, or any other version of a printed map. Instead, they rely on that GPS computer, the cell phone, and pure dumb luck. The other 1/3? A lot of them are like me - they've crisscrossed the country so many times, they don't NEED no stinking map most of the time!! Those last 10 or 20 miles going to a new stop is all they need any help with, and often times they can get that from the CB radio!

Re:.no (1)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424538)

Those GPS things? Personally, I don't like them - they want to hold your hand all the way across the continent. Every turn, every fuel stop, every restaurant. When I travel, I want to make the decisions, not have MapQuest, or anyone else decide which ramp to exit or enter the interstate on. Travel is supposed to be an adventure - let me decide when, where, and how.

They only hold your hand as much as you let them. If you chose to follow their directions for every turn, that's your choice. If you only want them to help guide you in the general direction, they can do that too.

I've never had a problem taking a trip or reading any type of map. My wife is the opposite so I had gave her a Garmin last Christmas. We took a trip from Indiana to North Carolina to visit her parents earlier this year and brought along our 3 sons ages 6-8. Highway route, it was a fairly simple trip as we were only following a couple of major highways the entire way. However having the GPS was wonderful as we could easily see how far it was till upcoming exits or reststops for bathroom breaks, how far restaurants or gas stations were for meals or to refuel, or just to answer the frequent "Are we there yet" or "how long till we get there".

On the way home, I decided to take a slight detour to the New River Gorge Bridge. I remember it from when I was growing up, and thought my boys would like it. Except I didn't exactly know where it was at. A few button pushes later, I already knew where it was, the best way to get there (which wasn't a major interstate route), and how much time we would "lose" with the detour. I could have tried to find it on a paper map, but I might not have been able to find it nor quickly determine how far away it was.

Re:.no (5, Interesting)

FrigBot (1459361) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424806)

In May and June this year, I went to Germany and Holland with my father. We rented an Audi with a GPS built in. It was a gift from the gods of navigation. Without it we would have been totally inept, and neither of us had used one before. I generally ran the nav system while he drove (because I picked up the fine points of the system quicker than he did).

One day, in Germany on the Autobahn (can't remember exactly where right now but I do have notes on it) there was a huge traffic jam. I had no idea that traffic there gets like that. But everything was backed up. People shut off their cars and got out to chat. Nobody was moving, in either direction. Remember this is the Autobahn.

Anyway, two notable things happened. We decided to follow a small group of cars that were driving on the shoulder and trying to find a way out. This was probably illegal, but whatever. After getting off the main highway, we wound up alone somewhere. Check the GPS, we found exactly where we were (with the traffic lady letting us know that noone was moving) and it was one a dirt road. I zoomed in on the map, found the next nearest hamlet and we navigated there. Then I did that again and again, and we drove through about a dozen tiny villages. It was amazing. We saw old buildings that no tourist ever sees, and some had scars in them, maybe from WW2. Got to see a lot of neat things.

Later, back on the main highway, we were stopped at a light or something and the kid in the car behind us jumped out, came to my window and asked for directions to some town he was trying to reach. I used the gps and gave him what he needed. That was cool too.

GPS is not distracting. I found it very helpful. Witout it we never would have seen those off-the-beaten path villages.

technology editor sucks at technology? (1, Insightful)

Karganeth (1017580) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423530)

If the guy is a technology editor, why is he struggling with something as simple as a GPS? I'd understand if he was reporting that others had this problem... but come on.

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423668)

The problem isn't struggling with the GPS(at least not in the sense of "Oh noes, the UI is just too hard!). The question is whether or not the GPS UI is distracting the driver's attention enough to make them especially vulnerable to doing stupid(which in a car means dangerous) things.

Research consistently demonstrates that humans suck at multitasking. Worse, they suck at multitasking to a much greater degree than they think they do. If interpreting a poorly designed GPS UI while also driving counts as multitasking, it is probably a dangerous distraction. If the GPS UI is well designed, it could presumably function as just another subtle environmental cue, something that humans are very good at interpreting.

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30423696)

Wait, isn't sucking at multitasking already multitasking, right there?

*ducks

*head explodes

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (1)

theNAM666 (179776) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425206)

Wait, isn't sucking at multitasking already multitasking

That would be sucking while multitasking. Obviously you've never worked at a programming shop which employs fluffers.

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (5, Insightful)

digitig (1056110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423770)

Yes, but it's only looking at one side of the issue. "Overall, the Carnegie Mellon team concluded that the time drivers spent fixated on their satnav displays decreased sixfold and the number of glances needed to confirm results decreased threefold when the navigation system simply used words and numbers to convey instructions rather than fancy graphics." Fine -- but what did it do to the number of missed turns, or the number of times the driver gets into the wrong lane becuase they don't really understand what the words and numbers are actually telling them to do? They're things that can make drivers "especially vulnerable to doing stupid(which in a car means dangerous) things" too. Most of the time sure, I just listen to my satnav. But at complex junctions, actually seeing the layout and where I'm supposed to end up is invaluable. A picture really can be worth a thousand words.

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (2, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423826)

Exactly. Plus things like "turn here" aren't that accurate on a GPS. Yeah, you might accurate within 300 feet, but if there are 2 roads you can turn in that distance, you might go down the wrong one.

Also, this "study" fails to see that some people have passengers that can read/edit info on the GPS.

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424260)

Most consumer GPSs are accurate to within several feet, and even the cheaper models now announce street names in addition to the distance to turn. Five years ago those were valid concerns, but not really today.

In my experience, road construction and other detours tend to be the biggest issue. But then again, I treat my GPS more like a road sign than a HUD, so I'm not too concerned about it distracting me.

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (2, Informative)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424118)

or the number of times the driver gets into the wrong lane becuase they don't really understand what the words and numbers are actually telling them to do? T

Having used a satnav with a rental recently, I have to say... it's really hard to misunderstand "Turn left in 120 feet" "Turn left in 50 feet" "Turn left". I used the display, but really only in looking "ahead" to see what was coming up in a mile or two. If a driver doesn't understand how the localized unit of measurement is relevant to actual distance, they shouldn't be driving with or without satnav.

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424298)

Yeah, simple intesections are -- well -- simple. Unfortunately, not all intersections are simple.

how fancy does the picture have to be? (2, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424120)

But at complex junctions, actually seeing the layout and where I'm supposed to end up is invaluable. A picture really can be worth a thousand words.

Yes, but the columnist's point was that you don't need fancy graphics with photos to tell you that. All you need is a clear diagram.

The factory system in my Volvo is relatively primitive (dates back to 2001 or so), but has an excellent user interface. You get a simple rocker-pad and two buttons, on the BACK of the wheel, that control everything; your hands never leave the ideal steering wheel position. You also get an infrared control with the same buttons, for passengers. The screen rises out of the dashboard, dead center. It does not obscure the road, but it's also close to said road, so your eyes don't wander far.

The display is relatively simple- map, road name you're on at the bottom, next turn name/distance/road name up top. I think there's a total-time-and-distance-left display, too. The time of day isn't there. Nothing is on the screen except what is directly relevant.

When a turn approaches, you get a full-screen diagram of the upcoming intersection with you entering from the bottom, and a marked path...and despite the very complex intersections where I live (rotaries with all sorts of shit happening off them, 5+6 way intersections, etc) it always displays them perfectly.

Did I mention it's fully capable of dead reckoning, with vehicle speed and compass sensors? Your dashboard GPS may have photorealistic intersections, but my GPS works a mile into a tunnel when the tunnel has a 3-way split. About the only thing I wish for is that it were faster at route calculations, displayed more street names and route numbers (it's very bad at this) and was a little better at picking up satellites; once in a blue moon it gets confused as to which street it is on (this is rare since it has dead-reckoning capabilities.)

Re:how fancy does the picture have to be? (3, Interesting)

digitig (1056110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424286)

But at complex junctions, actually seeing the layout and where I'm supposed to end up is invaluable. A picture really can be worth a thousand words.

Yes, but the columnist's point was that you don't need fancy graphics with photos to tell you that. All you need is a clear diagram.

For those of us who can read maps, sure. But there's something of a sampling bias here on /. -- we tend to be folks who can process symbolic information pretty well. Maps are not a lot of use for my wife, whereas a picture of the intersection with something pointing to where she should leave would be just what she needs.

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30423888)

Handling multitasking is one of the hardest things that instrument pilots need to do in aircraft. There are a lot of different instruments, and if you get fixated on one of them you tend to fall out of the sky. This is often even worse than a car hitting an abutment. The thing that takes the most practice is "keeping the scan going" -- looking regularly from instrument to instrument, and never stopping. There are even different systems of scan, with different virtues in terms of what information is received most often. New aircraft GPS systems are now totally integrated with the rest of the instrumentation, and the displays are designed to make the most critical instruments almost impossible to miss. Plus, regular refreshers and reviews are required to be allowed to keep flying.

But car drivers are allowed out there with minimal training and any old display, and they try to do all kinds of multitasking besides. As a pilot, if I could figure out how to fly everywhere and stay away from car drivers, I would. They're just too scary.

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424148)

The question is whether or not the GPS UI is distracting the driver's attention [...] Research consistently demonstrates that humans suck at multitasking. Worse, they suck at multitasking to a much greater degree than they think they do.

FTFS: "He contrasts [...] his own habit of dimming the display and using the audio commands for guidance."

Didn't BMW do some research into turn-by-turn voice guidance? And found that it increased drivers' accident rates by several times. In other words, the tech editor has solved his problem of a cluttered display, with a solution that is proven to be more dangerous.

(From memory, the research also showed that the effect was worse the further the sat-nav's voice was from your own. Such as a male driver with a "female" sat-nav. So BMW patented a system whereby the sat-nav learns your vocal patterns and adjusts to mimic you. (Presumably you can't patent just turning the fucking voice guidance off.))

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (1)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425124)

Research consistently demonstrates that humans suck at multitasking. Worse, they suck at multitasking to a much greater degree than they think they do. If interpreting a poorly designed GPS UI while also driving counts as multitasking, it is probably a dangerous distraction. If the GPS UI is well designed, it could presumably function as just another subtle environmental cue, something that humans are very good at interpreting.

Speaking as someone who served as an experimental subject in testing GPS devices and GUIs over the road (Virginia Tech's traffic research folks carried this out), I whole heartedly endorse the 'distraction' observation. IN the experiment they kept turning up the amount of data presented and asking me to made decisions from it while driving. They repeatedly took it well past distracting, to outright dangerous. I finally made them shut it off altogether. People don;t suck at multitasking as long as they're in control over task switching. These things don;t let you.

As for the outcome, they obviously sent their results on to the GPS makers. The standard GPS device runs at the "annoying but not dangerous" level.

Situational awareness (3, Funny)

wsanders (114993) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423672)

I have to post quickly, I have a Prius with a technology editor pinned inside I need to unwrap from around a bridge abutment.

Most people have pretty poor situational awareness. I've overheard more than once on he local ham radio repeater a conversation similar to this:

Ham driver: "Help help I have an emergency, I need a phone patch to CHP!"
Ham answers from somewhere: "Where are you?"
Driver: "I'm on the freeway!"

And so on. I can only imagine what 911 dispatchers go through.

Re:Situational awareness (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423762)

"I can only imagine what 911 dispatchers go through."

Hello 911? McDonalds won't give me my chicken McNuggets [huffingtonpost.com] .

Re:Situational awareness (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424320)

See: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2009/0303091mcnugget1.html [thesmokinggun.com]

She ordered nuggets, paid for them, and they say they're out, refuse to refund her and they offer her a mcdouble with small fries.

They were stealing from her or trying to defraud her. When that happens, calling the cops is a valid response.

It may not be a 911 case, but it's not like they tell everyone who to call in that situation.

Where she went wrong was calling 911 three times when they already told her an officer is on the way.

But wow, that's a really crappy McD. When was the last time you went to place where they were out of something and they still insisted on keeping your money and offered you something else instead. I'm not surprised she got so pissed off.

And: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20090304/odd-mcnuggets-911/ [huffingtonpost.com]

> A McDonald's spokesman says Goodman should have been given a refund, and she's being sent a gift card for a free meal.

Wow if I tried to cheat someone and failed, I can get away just by offering a gift card for a free meal? Oh only corporations can do that?

Ah I see.

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423684)

If the guy is a technology editor, why is he struggling with something as simple as a GPS? I'd understand if he was reporting that others had this problem... but come on.

If you actually RTFA you'd see that he wasn't complaining that he couldn't work his GPS, but was concerned about the potentially distracting visual clutter that is appearing on newer GPSs: 3D buildings, landmarks, terrain etc. and comparing it with two minimalist systems which research has shown to be more effective at communicating the necessary information with minimum distraction.

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (1)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423776)

Well said. I am generally pretty good at reading maps, contours and other stuff when I am hiking. Even when I am driving, when I have to stop and consult a printed map, I can figure my way out easily.

But when it comes to car navigation systems, I find myself having to pay way more attention, while the system should be lot more easier for somebody who is also required to pay all his/her attention to the road.

One of the reasons I do not use car navigation devices is that - I want a simple, minimal system.

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (4, Insightful)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423704)

If the guy is a technology editor, why is he struggling with something as simple as a GPS? I'd understand if he was reporting that others had this problem... but come on.

Ah, I believe the point being brought here is not a matter of being technologically challenged by such a device, but more of the matter of being a device that has gone from being a simple GPS to the new "all-in-wonder" device in the car that will talk to you, answer your phone, play music, give directions, and (soon), start throwing advertisements for local businesses in the area, all at the VERY HIGH cost of distracting the person who is in charge of controlling 2 metric tons of steel down a road at 60MPH or faster.

As the death tolls rise every day with cellular use while driving(including texting), I can definitely see the issue with similar devices. When insurance companies start refusing to pay for accidents caused by these devices, THEN we may start seeing some REAL reform with all of this. Until then, watch your ass on the roads, because these next-generation twit(ters) can't seem to get enough distractions behind the wheel. I'll be lucky if my kids live to see 30.

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30423754)

2 metric tons of steel down a road at 60MPH or faster.

Please don't do that. We've lost mars probes because of things like that.

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30423874)

I get it, and if I had mod points, you'd get one.

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30425232)

2 metric tons is a truck, not a car and I'd suggest something that weight should not be allowed or able to drive 60mph to begin with. (Yes, I know that includes Landrover Discoveries and BMW X5's - my point exactly)

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423854)

You and BadAnalogyGuy would make a great WWF tag team.

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424046)

No love for PizzaAnalogyGuy?

Allow me to channel him...

These technological distractions in vehicles are like feta cheese on pizza. Sometimes they're needed (aircraft, emergency vehicles, etc.), sometimes they aren't (txting on a cellphone, juggling CDs for music, in-dash DVD players) but the point is, unless you're making a greek style pizza, they shouldn't be there. They're detrimental to the whole experience.

Re:technology editor sucks at technology? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424732)

We don't know that. This piece, like all Economist articles, lacks a byline. For all we know, the writer could be a simple "Technology Correspondent", a mere peon at the magazine's vast technological desk.

What's wrong in getting lost, sometimes, anyway? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423546)

In vast majority of cases you drive in known area; always the same route, more or less. I don't see how GPS helps here. Any possible setbacks due to choosing slightly wrong way are more than offset by the elasticity in choosing better way due to momentary traffic conditions.

Not sure how representative this part is, but - when NOT driving in known area I'm always never in a real hurry. In few cases when that might be true it's easy to pre-plan it...or even ask somebody along the way / make a quick phonecall to known local resident when close to destination and lost (also - they, or other people who often travel the route you are planning to take, know much more than GPS: which way is more pleasant)

Re:What's wrong in getting lost, sometimes, anyway (1)

jcrb (187104) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423620)

The problem is when you ARE in a hurry... because you are in fast moving traffic, or you have to decide if THIS is the street you are supposed to turn on or its the next street. For such situations I find that only fully accurate maps AND a GPS receiver that isn't lagging 2 seconds behind or not able to figure out that they street it says is 300 feet ahead is actually the one that I am stopped at the light of work.

I do very much like the voice instructions, particularly when they give a sequence, e.g. "that they next right turn on Main Street and then keep left", since that helps reduce the lag of the information as well as the number of times I have to consult the display. but the claim in the linked story that;

  "The trouble is that the optic nerve just does not have the bandwidth to handle great gobs of visual information thrown at it."

is just abject nonsense, there is no sensory organ you have that is better equipped to handle both great gobs of bandwidth as well as to process it all in parallel than the optic nerve.

what you want to avoid is a display cluttered with *useless* information, not a display stripped of *useful* information

Re:What's wrong in getting lost, sometimes, anyway (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423822)

It's still a bit "fuzzy" though; never mind wondering if, perhaps, when you have to turn in fast moving traffic it's usually some main road with proper, big signs; or when that particular street similar to every other matters you're close to destination anyway. I'm stressing more "are you really in such a hurry?". Which is more of a problem in itself; probably a lot reckless driving stems from people who "must get there sooner!" (and who knows if always relying on GPS doesn't contribute to late departure or unrealistic expectation of travel time...)

I would agree such voice instructions to be very handy. Actual display OTOH...no, this should be kept to minimum. It's more about shifting focus (both optical and mental one) than capacity of optic nerve. Also, I wouldn't be too surprised from negative influence on vision when riding in the night with very bright display (as I sometimes see...from outside) just in front of your eyes, with totally different light spectrum than the road ahead.

Re:What's wrong in getting lost, sometimes, anyway (1)

grapeshot (1022375) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424424)

There's nothing wrong with meandering...unless you've just landed in a strange town for a business meeting that you simply MUST arrive at on time. Or you're lost in a strange, big city and have inadvertently strayed into it's most dangerous neighborhood. Or you're in a large city on the eastern seaboard with confusing one-way streets that are poorly marked and AT NIGHT, no less (Boston, I'm looking at you). Or you're trying to get somewhere in a town where the map has all the expressways listed by their number, but the signs all list them by their name (NYC, I'm looking at you). Try navigating at night, or on an overcast, gray day, when you can't tell which way is north, in a place where the roads all began as cowpaths 300 years ago, so they're not laid out in a spiffy, convenient grid (east coast, I'm looking at you). Even on a sunny day, if you're trying to navigate through a mountainous, hilly, forest-y terrain, with narrow twisty-turny roads, it's amazing how quickly you can become lost (Virginia, Tennessee, I'm looking at you).

At times like these, all that meandering won't get me to where I need to be. I often find myself driving in a strange (to me, that is) part of the US, and I am a firm believer in both my GPS AND my maps. And in colleagues that I can call who'll look things up on MapQuest or GoogleEarth and talk me to my destination.

Re:What's wrong in getting lost, sometimes, anyway (1)

Adaeniel (1315637) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423632)

What's wrong in getting lost, sometimes, anyway?

You're right, but I think this question depends on multiple factors: whether or not it is a safe area that you are lost in, whether or not it is night time in said area, etc. However, it's not like a GPS knows these things anyways, so this may be a moot point.

Re:What's wrong in getting lost, sometimes, anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30423642)

I generally find it more pleasant to be able to pull over, turn on my sat nav and get back on track, rather than find a pen + paper, phoning a local resident I know, trying to describe where I am and then write down directions (if they even know them) and the try and follow said directions when I'm driving along. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind getting a little lost sometimes but sat nav really is more useful than pratting about with getting directions. I also think you may be underestimating satnav systems. These days they're pretty good at picking out the best route and most of them will take into account whether or not you want the shortest route, fastest route or if you just want to keep off the main roads. I can certainly fault my satnav system in areas that I know well but those faults are usually minor and more often than not they're because the route shown is easier to follow.

Re:What's wrong in getting lost, sometimes, anyway (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423698)

I'd say we are more or less in an agreement, actually; you seem to use GPS in similar style to traditional methods. Certainly in agreement to what the summary is saying.

Re:What's wrong in getting lost, sometimes, anyway (4, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423882)

Or you could do what I do: just take the next exit and let the sat-nav figure out how to get you back on track. If it takes less than a second to do so, missing a couple streets isn't that big a deal, and there's almost certainly a lower attention-demanding route to wherever. Generally, the most complicated places are highways in traffic with left-exits and short spans.

But if you take any nearby exit, there's almost always a "street with many stoplights" that you can pretty much take your time on. Sat-nav also helps with tricky left turns on that street. Just turn right anywhere near your destination and let it recalculate a route for you.

The thing about sat nav is that it creates a new navigation paradigm. If you use it right it can really free you from worrying about where you are so you can concentrate on not hitting things. You don't have to drive straight to your destination without deviating from the route to avoid stopping and getting your bearings. Everywhere is like the areas you're familiar with, where if you miss a turn it's no big deal, you just go one of the other permutations you know all about.

Even if the machine's maps don't quite match up to reality, it's still no worse than when you're in your familiar area and you're trying out a permutation you're fuzzy on: Just turn off when it doesn't match up and get on a route that you know about. As long as you pay attention to the road, the worst thing that can happen is that it'll take longer to get where you're trying to go (unless where you're trying to go is in the middle of a block of roads that the sat-nav is not accurate on. But that's pretty rare.)

Re:What's wrong in getting lost, sometimes, anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424684)

Wait, did you just start that post with "Or you could..." and then completely agree with parent post? Or am I missing something? I'm aware that parent seems to turn on the satnav when they're not sure where to go and you appear to leave yours on but in essence there doesn't seem to be any difference (except wording and 3 or 4 mod points) in both of your posts.

Re:What's wrong in getting lost, sometimes, anyway (1)

phoenix321 (734987) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423798)

Getting lost in European cities can mean a 15km drive to get back on track, when all left turns are forbidden for several km or after the wrong exit on the roundabout you're right on a freeway that has no option of stopping or turning for quite some time.

If you're on holiday, rent a GPS or take a GPS-phone with Open Street Maps with you. It will certainly save some headaches, hours of searching and confusion when overpasses become underpasses, tall buildings obstruct all possible landmarks and reading the direction signs are placed only near the intersection like they typically are in France, Italy, Spain or Portugal. With three lanes of dense rush hour traffic between you and the exit.

Getting lost is still an option on a relaxed vacation: turn the thing off. But then you're hosed when you would like to return once again to that incredibly delicious tiny restaurant in that cozy village only a few km out where you've eaten at a week ago.

And then try to navigate the streets in Beijing or Shanghai, where traffic is absolutely batshit crazy, all drivers are in a hurry, using the turn indicators is forbidden by tradition and/or the brake lights are kaput since the dawn of the ages. And streets and lanes are still half a kilometer wide. I don't know about India, but I reckon the army of tuk-tuks storming the streets doesn't help much either. Ignoring for a while that most foreigners are not allowed to drive in mainland China, you absolutely positively need a GPS to survive things like that:

http://maps.google.com/maps?&sll=51.151786,10.415039&sspn=13.744729,39.506836&ie=UTF8&ll=31.209975,121.497352&spn=0.009139,0.01929 [google.com]
http://wallpapers.bpix.org/wallpapers/63/Shanghai_at_Night%2C_Shanghai%2C_P.R._China.jpg [bpix.org]

Re:What's wrong in getting lost, sometimes, anyway (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424146)

I live in the EU...

(though, to be fair, my judgment might be influenced by the thing that I have a big chance to be exposed either to Polish roads, which are an example of chaotic, highly complex system requiring trained wetware (with GPS maps often lagging a bit), or German ones with their supposed...perfection)

Re:What's wrong in getting lost, sometimes, anyway (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424872)

When I was bicycling Poland several times about 20 years ago (1988 and 1989), we coined the term "polish kilometer", because the distance to the next town was more a rough estimate than everything else.

It could happen that the distance shown on the road signs was varying 2-3 km, and that the last "(Next Village) 2 km" sign was just in sight of the actual village limit sign.

Re:What's wrong in getting lost, sometimes, anyway (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423802)

or even ask somebody along the way / make a quick phonecall to known local resident when close to destination and lost (also - they, or other people who often travel the route you are planning to take, know much more than GPS: which way is more pleasant)

Yeah, my friends love when I do that at 3am. More of a nuisance when I'm driving somewhere where I don't know anybody, and quite often don't speak the language. Just because GPS doesn't suit your lifestyle doesn't mean the rest of us shouldn't be using it.

Re:What's wrong in getting lost, sometimes, anyway (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423842)

Where are you hurrying at 3am, when nobody is waiting for you at the destination area?

Re:What's wrong in getting lost, sometimes, anyway (2, Informative)

digitig (1056110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423946)

Generally, a bed is waiting for me in the destination area, and I would like to get some sleep before the morning meeting rather than spend the night driving around the one-way street system in some foreign city.

Re:What's wrong in getting lost, sometimes, anyway (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424174)

Well and good that you enjoy getting lost. There are, however, people who go to new area and need to do so in timely manner without getting bogged down with the sampling of local kumbaya vibe.

Re:What's wrong in getting lost, sometimes, anyway (1)

Shompol (1690084) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424546)

Down with technology! who needs it anyways? I can do quite well without frige - just go to market every day and buy fresh (live) chicken. Also, why do you drive a car in the first place? Horse and carriage do not suite your needs? (when you are not in a hurry, that is)

If you can't ignore the GPS (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423562)

Then you probably shouldn't be driving. Take the bus.

Re:If you can't ignore the GPS (4, Interesting)

BeardedChimp (1416531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423670)

Reminds me of this. [timesonline.co.uk]
"Since a road closure, dozens of drivers have blithely followed directions from their satellite navigation systems, not realising that the recommended route goes through the ford.
Normally the water — the start of the River Avon — is about 2ft deep but it can swiftly double in depth after heavy rain.
Every day since the main B4040 was closed after a wall collapsed on April 8 one or two motorists have been towed out, having either failed to notice or ignored warning signs. Some farmers have been charging £25 to give a tow with tractors."

Re:If you can't ignore the GPS (4, Insightful)

supernova87a (532540) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423930)

By the way, just a tip for everyone -- I've found that ironically the bus is actually where a GPS makes the biggest improvement in knowing how to get around.

If you're in an unfamiliar city, buses (in contrast to trains) often have a frustratingly indescribable and unpredictable route/stop pattern, and when the driver/announcement system is of no help, a GPS system in your hand will help you figure out exactly how close you are to your destination, and when to get off the bus.

I no longer dread dealing with buses because of this capability, although the lurching stop/start of buses in general still drives me crazy. Try it sometime -- the small Nuvi-style units are just about as inconspicuous as an ipod, and are great for helping you get around.

It's not about ignoring, it's about data transfer (2, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424214)

The thing is, I totally get what he is saying - I use a free nav app for the iPhone (and most other platforms) called Waze [waze.com] . At times, the screen is lit up like a christmas tree with a thousand data points.

But how I like to use the app, is simply as an informational display as to what is around me. So the app would be even more useful to me, if there was a mode that showed the next three streets upcoming and not much else. Kind of like he was talking about the tube map, a more logical and clearly presented map that lets me parse important information much more quickly so I don't have to pay attention, I just have to glance.

Headup display (4, Interesting)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423600)

Why not a headsup display?

My car's frontwindow angle is say 45.
This allows me to just put my Android phone on my dashboard which reflects on the window and generates a transparent reflection which shows up in a "virtual distance" in my field of view.
It's not as crisp to actually read while driving or being stuck in traffic and it requires low light conditions, though. But you can make up a map easily.

Re:Headup display (1)

fracai (796392) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423878)

I'd prefer not to have to read the map upside down (bottom of the phone facing is closest to me) or backwards (phone is rotated around so the top is closest to me).

Re:Headup display (1)

Kentari (1265084) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424168)

But with a true HUD you wouldn't need to read a map. It would simply draw the next few hundreds of meters of your route on your windshield over what you see through your windshield. No more glancing at screens, just look where you are supposed to be going and see the traffic at the same time. Maybe it could add a bit of helpful information such as street names, but you have to avoid clutter, just as with any interface. But for more information; like a digital map, you would still have to look at a lcd-screen, preferably when traffic allows you to.

Re:Headup display (1)

Yold (473518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424610)

i think what he is saying is that the screen-image would reverse (mirrored), so the backwards text isn't a problem.

I actually did this once with directions I printed off from the internet, and it worked OK despite the backwards text.

If I was going to do it again, I'd make the font really big and use the "mirror image" option when I printed it. I would also put about 5 different colored bars between the directions so I could more easily find the next exit/direction.

Re:Headup display (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424626)

Umm, in this scenario there'd have to be some engineering to start. So they just add an additional mirror to the set up and things are then looking the right direction for the driver.

Re:Headup display (1)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424112)

I don't know why HUDs haven't been more widely adapted, especially in the realm of motorcycles. Granted, my motorcycle doesn't have a windscreen, but for the highway cruisers and and what-not, I would think it invaluable to keep all the important information a rider needs available without having to take eyes off the road (a split second can kill). Now integrate with gps mapping, etc and we'd have a winner.

Re:Headup display (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424988)

motorcycle huds are very small as they can only display in a small window. what you really want, is a transparent display that can replace the visor part of the helmet.

What would be really useful though is a wireless transmission standard so that any helmet mounted HUD unit can receive data from any nearby motorcycle. Use range limitations like bluetooth only about 2 meters though. This way helmet people can design the hardware into the helmets.

Re:Headup display (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425106)

What would you display on a motorcycle HUD?
  • Speed is irrevalent, and you pretty much know how fast you're going from the feel of the wind anyway
  • Engine revs (tachometer) you can tell by ear, and bikes have a rev limiter anyway
  • Oil/engine temperature, oil pressure, etc. are idiot lights you'll see glowing without a HUD
  • You can see the *actual* turn signals on the bike, so a turn signal indicator is just silly
  • Fuel level isn't that useful - in general you just ride around until you hit reserve, then buy gas
  • What gear you're in you know already, if you're paying attention

What else is there? I hope you don't want a GPS - the entire point of a motorcycle is to be off the beaten track in the first place.

Re:Headup display (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424254)

HUDs work wonderfully in military aircraft. Operators should never look into a cockpit unless absolutely necessary.

Re:Headup display (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424488)

Why not a headsup display?

You'd think that would be done for regular instrements, especially the speedometer.

He's right (1)

thomp (56629) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423634)

I don't want to see a rendered image on the navigation system; I just want a 2-D map. It might make for pretty graphics (and marketability), but it's more than I need to navigate.

But I'm an old geography fart just like the author of the article.

Re:He's right (1)

mrderm (685352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423718)

Which satnav system doesnt support an optional 2D map?

The problem with a 3D display is that perspective means that proportionally more pixels are used for the features next to you, and behind you. The features on the road ahead are shrunken. That's the opposite of how I would want the pixels used.

...I lack the time to make it short. (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423638)

What the article is talking about isn't "bloat", but rather extra algorithms to remove unnecessary detail. As Pascal put it, "I made this letter longer than usual because I lack the time to make it short." It takes more work to include only and exactly the right information.

That's extremely hard with navigation, since leaving the wrong thing out can be worse than the original information overload.

Re:...I lack the time to make it short. (1)

Nf1nk (443791) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423732)

The cheapo two year old GPS I have does this already (garman Nuvi 200 series). If I am 1/2 a mile from the next turn it leaves off most smaller side streets. When I get within a certain distance of the turn it shows all of the details. You need this because when you are coming into a strange inter section you do ned to see that there are two streets that are very close together and you need a third street that is hidden behind a building.

If you can't multitask... (2, Interesting)

incognito84 (903401) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423676)

...then you shouldn't have GPS. I have no problem looking at the GPS screen on my motorcycle for a split second, recognizing what I'm expected to do and then focusing back on the road again.

Then again, my GPS display is very simple and I like it that way. I hate displays that are so complicated that you need to scan around the screen with your eyes for a few seconds to get your bearings. Those few seconds could make the difference between life and death.

I think the real problem here, which is not being addressed, is the fact that most people watch TV on their GPS displays. That should be illegal.

Case in point (3, Funny)

jdeitch (12598) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423720)

Just last week, here, we had a truck driver following his GPS ignore no less than EIGHT road signs saying "no trucks allowed" ...

Then he got stuck on the train tracks (which was WHY the signs said "no trucks allowed") ... the predictable result followed, and about 24,000 lbs of pizza ingredients got scattered over a fairly good chunk of town.

There are some people in the world who just shouldn't abandon paper.

Re:Case in point (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423828)

There are some people in the world who just shouldn't be allowed out of the care home!

Re:Case in point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424436)

In my parents' 1960s suburban neighborhood, a street was chopped in half to build a brand-new stormwater retention pond.

You can guess what happened. A college student, used to using the street as a high-speed shortcut, missed a stop sign, missed the yellow "end of road" signs, and drove straight into the pond.

Ever drive in Maine? (1)

JohnPombrio (1612147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423760)

Or Colorado? Or any other place where the roads are winding and have blind intersections? There I need all the information I can get. And if you are tooling down a highway, who looks at the map?

This is a great article, except... (2, Funny)

starglider29a (719559) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423784)

...it's hard to read on my iPhone while driving!

Accurate visuals are extremely helpful (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30423814)

Personally, I use the accurate maps on a GPS device to resolve ambiguities in the directions. This is especially true in the case of unusual ramp systems on the highway.

Map and asking for directions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30423856)

Personally, I get along just fine with a map and asking for directions the occasional time where I can't find a location either due to extreme density or sparsity. I've used a general outdoors GPS in conjunction with a laptop on a cross country road trip for additional assistance/backup where asking for directions isn't advisable, but we park and look it up. I don't see a need for these in your face nav systems. Focus on driving and taking in landmarks and navigational/compass clues, and you won't need the stupid nav system quite so much. In-Car digital compasses may help when you lose your bearing.

Interesting but no (1)

fooslacker (961470) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423886)

The correct way to visualize information is an interesting topic and his investigation of the London underground maps is a classic example of how something can be accurate but not precise, or maybe accurate in one dimension (connection/destination) but not another (direction). That said it's a stretch to say GPS needs to follow that mode. Unlike the underground when you're being informed of where you're going and where to get off and on different trains you're actually being informed of where you are relative to other items with a GPS. It's not just a direction giving system it's also a mapping system and a simplified representation is not enough to help you with that. Additionally, my GPS is extremely helpful in large cities with telling me which lanes I'm going to need to be in to take certain exits. It does this with a simple graphic I can glance at and not voice commands which I might miss. This is very good on a major freeway at rush hour. I love the topic but I think his dislike of the GPS map visualization is off as it does a very good job IMO.

Anyone reading Doonesbury? (2, Funny)

Bazman (4849) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423898)

There's a storyline on Doonesbury in a studio where they are recording celebrity SatNav voice-overs. What we really need is James Earl-Jones on our SatNav. http://www.doonesbury.com/strip/dailydose/index.html?uc_full_date=20091207 [doonesbury.com]

Re:Anyone reading Doonesbury? (2, Funny)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423936)

Yeah, but "What is thy bidding, my master?" gets pretty old after only a couple of destinations are entered, and "Your lack of faith disturbs me" is a pretty obnoxious replacement for "recalculating."

Not quite yet (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423956)

Until my GPS stops sending me to people's houses when looking for an IHOP I'd rather get a picture and evaluate for myself what's going on. 95%+ of the time I could just follow the directions unquestioningly and not have problems, but if there are detours, new roads or it has addresses wrong, it suddenly becomes useless unless I can use it as a map to figure out the directions for myself.

Maybe you have to hit a button to temporarily display a map, or park the car to keep the map up- the map could stay up as you move if you aren't being given directions. I'd value a reduction in the distraction it creates, but it shouldn't lose functionality in the process.

Subway maps not comparable to street maps (1)

Wannabe Code Monkey (638617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423968)

Setting aside his argument for a second. I don't think comparing GPS maps to subway maps is in any way helpful. Subway maps don't have to be exactly geographically accurate for at least reasons:

  1. The user of the subway maps is not doing the navigating. It doesn't matter whether the next dot is 100m or 1000m away, all I need to know is to get off the next time the doors open, or that I can transfer between the red and orange line at this stop (this also applies to bus routes and train routes). When driving, if there are two rights coming up very close together, it helps to have the map with your path highlighted along the first one and not the second and having that match up to the reality that you're seeing out the windshield.
  2. Subways are underground. It's not important that a map of the subway lines exactly match the above ground geography, just that stops are labeled and positioned approximately relative to one another.

Re:Subway maps not comparable to street maps (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424930)

Subway maps don't have to be exactly geographically accurate for at least reasons

By the time subway maps were required, mapmaking technology had improved to the point where an exact geographic representation was fairly trivial. The designer of the London tube map chose to simplify. He chose to throw things out. He chose to focus on what the riders required, and what they did not.

GPS Map designers need to figure out how to display the required information while filtering out what isn't required.

Use of Sat-Nav (1)

pertelote (37736) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423974)

I recently got my droid, and found the Google Maps fascinating. I most certainly cannot watch the screen even in the cradle while driving, but I found it to be a great tool for trip planning. I make service calls all over my county, and checking the map before I go does help.

However, the best use I got from the device was last month on an out of state trip. I programmed in the location, got directions, studied the route, tried an alternative route to skip certain expressway construction, listened to the audio and used Google Earth to see the landmarks and destination from street level. Did *all* that before I started the trip. When I did get slightly off track once, a quick reference to the device helped me back on track quickly. Made the 850 journey as easy as the morning drive to my office.

Like all technology, these devices have their place.

completely misunderstood (2, Insightful)

supernova87a (532540) | more than 4 years ago | (#30423988)

the editor completely misunderstands the point (or misuses his/her GPS). The potential clutter of the user interface/map/traffic aside, GPS is the most dramatic simplification in driving to emerge in years -- provided you just listen to the voice prompts.

When used correctly, this one amazing device outsources your mental burden of navigation, and presents it to you with a clear voice that lets you devote your effort to (hopefully) driving better, although obviously this has turned many people's attention elsewhere.

If you've ever found yourself in an unfamiliar city in fast moving, dense traffic, trying to find an address, you will be grateful that you can offload your navigational workload to the GPS, which tells you clearly and plainly when to get ready to turn, in how far a distance, potentially even making it safer as you no longer swerve across 3 lanes of traffic at the last minute while looking at a paper map.

Of course, people who use it to navigate down isolated country roads they're familiar with will never see the point, but for someone who's task-overloaded in a busy situation, listening to the GPS voice is an amazing improvement in life.

Useful Safety Feature (2, Informative)

awyeah (70462) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424002)

My TomTom unit actually has some safety options where you can have the unit not display the realtime map - instead, it just shows a graphical representation of the next instruction (for example, a line that corners right to signify a right turn), the distance to that instruction, and the street name. I think that's really a pretty useful feature. I have it set up so that it does that whenever I'm going more than 50mph.

Re:Useful Safety Feature (2, Funny)

6Yankee (597075) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424258)

I need to get my dad one of those. There's nothing quite as disconcerting as barrelling down an on-ramp, accelerating through 80mph, and realising he's driving the screen...

Whats the alternative? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424068)

The best thing to do is plan your route out before leaving when you will be finding yourself in unfamiliar territory.

The second best thing to do is fire up the gps app on your phone (copilot is the best+cheapest) and wait for it to tell you where to turn.

The absolute worst thing I could possible ever imagine myself doing is unfolding and looking at a fricking map when I'm supposed to be driving. Thats much more dangerous and complicated than turning when the little computer box tells you to. Just make sure there is actually a road there before you turn :)

As compared to ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424080)

... unfolding a 2x3 foot paper map while driving?

Underground maps? Easy? Blimey... (1)

theNAM666 (179776) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424090)

>the simplicity of London's Underground map (not directionally accurate but visually easy to understand)

This is perfectly fine and true if all you wish to do is understand the map and only the map itself. (I'm all for cyclical adirectional forms).

While in London last week, visiting a semi-employed mathematical friend from Cambridge, I was confronted with the unusual task, probably never considered by the Underground Map's planners, of needing to travel from one point to another. (It is well-known cartographic that a math degree from C&O is the best path to semi-cartography on the planet, or, at least, in the United Kingdom).

Anyways, since the Underground map has little (not quite no) spacial correspondence to the location of the geographic points it maps, it is consequently difficult-to-impossible for an outsider to locate the actual, physical locations of the stations on a traditional map (I mean the kind drawn by a normal human interested in say, grocery shopping instead of matrix algebra, and uninclined to turn their shopping route into an exercise in said algebraic) --or, say, in reality.

If you do not already know the station locations, at which point you probably wouldn't need the map, this is a significant impediment to getting where one needs to go.

(Disclaimer: of course, I'm male and genetically predisposed to look at the map and not to ask for directions. Individuals without this genetic anomaly may find the Underground maps perfectly fine and useful. Or they may just be from Venus.)

Re:Underground maps? Easy? Blimey... (1)

AxeTheMax (1163705) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424596)

I think you might be saying you can't read a map?

Re:Underground maps? Easy? Blimey... (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424780)

Getting around London with the Underground was rather easy for me and I've never dealt with subways before that trip nor had I been to London (or England) before.

Route to entrance station, route from exit station, the actual physical path in between didn't matter. And this was with the free brochure map and I didn't ask for directions.

It did get interesting when they started shutting stations down due to some bomb threats so I had to adjust some routes on the fly but that was an issue of certain lines shutting down, not getting lost.

Purchase A-Z map of London (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424782)

Purchase a copy of the A-Z map of London (A5 book type not large fold out map). It's got real spatial maps and at the back or on the back cover has the tube map. Plus an index so you can see where tube stations are in the real world. Very handy for visiting friends etc when you're told "the nearest tube station is X" and you need to navigate the 200 metres from there. No maths degree required, average 11 year old literacy will suffice.

I think you mistake the purpose of the tube map - it was intended to show the sequence of tube stations and how each line connects. Read up on Harry Beck [wikipedia.org] and the intention of the classic tube map redesign. As someone who likes cartography you'll understand the problems involved that occur when you try to represent tube stations on a correct to scale map: lots of central London locations crammed together to enable you to fit the outer London stations on, plus too much peripheral geographical information.

p.s. I like your phrase "semi-employed mathematical friend from Cambridge" but I don't understand what this means. Are they part time tutoring/ lecturing, or does this mean they are doing shifts at MacDonalds?

Un-dead reckoning (1)

GerryHattrick (1037764) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424348)

Before satnav, I could cross London at any angle using a sort of mental dead-reckoning. Now you get halfway with guidance and don't even know where you are. Divert in a direction you know to be clever, and it shouts 'turn around when possible' or leads you in an unannounced complete circle to get back on its misconceived and gridlocked initial route. Whatever happened to 'Foldex' maps? They were good enough for my father's bombing runs abroad.

co-pilot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30424382)

I advocate mandatory two person crew while driving.
If it's good enough for the airlines, it's good enough for Joe Blow.

Plus helmet mounted display with head orientation sensor.

Seriously, there will always be people who are easily overloaded.
Never mind overloading, a lot of people shouldn't drive period, yet the system allows them to be a danger to themselves and everybody around them.

We're wayyyy past that point. (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424580)

About 15 years ago, I read an article about, how scientists found out, that the human brain dramatically changed over the past 40 years (from back then, so 55 years).

The change is, that we developed a new system, to cope with information overload.
Old people have (or would have, if they still lived) massive problems to cope with e.g. the typical blinking and animating downtown advertisement overkill of a Asian metropolis... or the typical ad-laden website.

We have learned to focus on one thing, and ignore all the noise around us.
One side effect of this, is that now we are more prone to doing contradicting things. Like talking about how we care about whales and nature, while throwing trash on the street at the same moment.

So I have no doubt, that we will cope very well with that added overload. By simply adding better filters and a stronger focus.

The only question is, if those side-effects get stronger, and what that means for our society.
But I doubt that if this gets close to creating problems, we won’t adapt to it too.

I for one welcome our new information overlords (1)

trickyrickb (910871) | more than 4 years ago | (#30424690)

Oh wait....

Turn off the audio (3, Interesting)

Wormholio (729552) | more than 4 years ago | (#30425184)

I found the audio to be distracting, whereas the video display gives me positional awareness, and I can look at it when I choose to, not when the box decides to say something. I found I was much more relaxed when I found how to turn off the audio.

So I guess having both at the same time is the real problem.

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