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How Does GPS Change Us?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the reorientation-session dept.

Earth 266

ATKeiper writes "People have talked for a while about the effects of GPS on our driving ability and our sense of direction; one researcher at McGill has even been developing an exercise regimen to compensate for our supposedly atrophying navigational ability. But is GPS reshaping our lives in a more fundamental sense? The author of this new essay draws on science, sociology, and literature to argue that GPS is transforming how we think about travel and exploration. How can we discover 'the new' in an age when everything around us is mapped?" My own experience is that GPS has made me much more aware of location, by showing me the bird's-eye view, and letting me instantly compare alternate routes.

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266 comments

Durr (-1, Offtopic)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 2 years ago | (#37064970)

We must fly to space.

"How can we discover 'the new' in an age when (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 2 years ago | (#37064980)

thing around us is mapped?"

How is this a GPS problem? Maps existed before GPS...

Also, isn't it like asking "How can I discover new restaurants (or products) when everything is already reviewed?"

If you want to pioneer, go to the bottom of the ocean or into space. You know, the edges of human knowledge. Don't stay safely within the confines of society and then complain that your "exploration" is already known.

Re:"How can we discover 'the new' in an age when (1)

kybred (795293) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065122)

How is this a GPS problem? Maps existed before GPS...

Yeah. I don't that that is an effect of GPS so much as an effect of the online maps (Google Maps, etc). Of course, those are dependent on GPS, so I guess it's a secondary effect.

Re:"How can we discover 'the new' in an age when (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065172)

Arguably, GPS is better than legacy maps if you want to 'discover'; because all it does is(in most module implementations) spit out a NMEA or vendor binary equivalent of x,y,z coordinates, time, and heading at intervals.

You can have an absolutely blank "map" and still accurately place whatever you find within a reasonably well-behaved coordinate space. Plus, when you get lost, you can breadcrumb your way back home before you have to get all Donner Party on whoever is nearby...

If you prefer to pick your discoveries from categories that you actually care about, you can selectively or fully introduce map data for roads, businesses, manhole covers, whatever...

Plus, of course, there is the entire class of "discovery" where having a really accurate timebase that isn't full of caesium is pretty handy...

Guess what, back in the day, the fact that the horizon of human knowledge was so narrow didn't tend to promote discovery, it tended to promote people living, breeding, and dying within spitting distance of the same place and telling wild stories about antipodian monsters and the Kingdom Of Prestor John. Good navigational aids, on the other hand, get people off their asses because they make travel more valuable and less risky.

Now, if you want to talk about what GPS has done to the kiddie's compass and map-reading skills, go right ahead; but a highly accurate coordinate reference system is a boon to discoverers. Those poor guys undertaking the Great Trigonometric Survey [surveyhistory.org] would likely have happily given a testicle for access to GPS fixes...

Re:"How can we discover 'the new' in an age when (2)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065212)

I'm a GPS addict and managed on more than one occassion to out-orienteer an Army Ranger Orienteering instructor. It's not just being able to use a compass, but to "feel" the lay of the land to sense where the contours on the map are under your feet so that you can make minute corrections with no external references. Following the explicit rules without taking the bigger picture into your head will leave you lost with a very accurate path of how you got there. GPS and extensive use of digital maps don't hurt the "art" of finding your way. They just make it much more safe if you ever do get actually lost (not the "oh no, I have to back-track 100 yards to that srtream and follow that for 30 yards to the road" lost that panics an army ranger trying to show off his trade).

Re:"How can we discover 'the new' in an age when (1)

mathew7 (863867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065792)

I read just a few line in the article, but apart from history, it seems the article is about navigation SW (with GPS HW), not pure GPS.
I remember I just used 2-3 times the "navigation" part of the SW, the rest was just birds-eye view of my current location.

Obvious... (3, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37064982)

at least to me.

I've broadened by navigational horizons. First, by turning on "Avoid Highways," which exposes you to side roads. Secondly, I've found that GPS can show you shorter routes you might never have found/taken because you chose the simple/easy route.

Re:Obvious... (2)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065012)

My GPS takes longer, side roads rather than the shorter/faster routes without me even asking for it. In this one area, it even gets off the main road and backs up into a side road and takes 3 extra turns, just to get where the main road would have taken me in 1/3 of the time and straight ahead. Another "helpful" routing was that rather go 1 more exit on the highway and be at that destination, it cuts it short and takes me through town's main street with a light every 50 feet. A five minute trip turned into a 45 minute one.

Of course, it's a crappy 5 y/o Garmin rather than Google Maps.

Re:Obvious... (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065070)

Yeah, you have that thing configured wrong or it just plain sucks. Mine will take different routes at different times of the day based on past traffic patterns, and the worst I can say for it is that it loves major roads, and I don't.

Which is probably a good thing, if not always optimal. At least they're likely to be able to support the traffic.

Re:Obvious... (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065192)

Both my Garmin and my TomTom do things like that at times. It's not configuration, and it's not the device sucking. It's poor maps that don't know anything about traffic lights.

Case in point, if you ask for directions to Holy Cross in Santa Cruz from the South Bay, the Garmin directs you to take the left exit onto Ocean Street, take a right at Water, and turn right onto Emmett St. If you don't know what you're doing, that avoids an awkward, light-free left turn at Emmett, but it takes about ten minutes longer because A. it's 30 MPH city streets (I think) instead of 45 MPH for most of Chestnut, and B. the traffic lights on Water at Center and Pacific conspire to make you wait a small eternity, plus the light on Water at River, plus three or four lights on Ocean, for a total of six or seven lights, all of which you will almost invariably hit red, statistically speaking. BTW, Google Maps also gives the same set of awful directions.

You can avoid most of those lights and still avoid the awkward left turn by taking the right fork and turning left at River St and right where Pacific branches off, but that's still five traffic lights (one of which you're turning right at) instead of two if you had taken the right fork and turned left at Mission instead. So it's not a lot slower, but it is a little slower most of the time.

Re:Obvious... (4, Interesting)

bgat (123664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065234)

If we could get past the obvious privacy implications, seems like Google Maps et. al could incorporate the route you ACTUALLY took into future requests for similar routes. It always irritates me when I get an obviously sub-optimal route from Google Maps, but it's never clear to me how to actually fix the problem. If Google took feedback from where I actually drove instead, over time the problem might fix itself.

Re:Obvious... (2)

adolf (21054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065750)

It always irritates me when I get an obviously sub-optimal route from Google Maps, but it's never clear to me how to actually fix the problem. If Google took feedback from where I actually drove instead, over time the problem might fix itself.

Interestingly enough, they do: Google Map Maker [google.com] . It was (somewhat negatively) covered here on Slashdot awhile back, but I can't be bothered to find TFA just now.

It's not automatic, but then I don't know that it should be: A lot of what's wrong with a routing system (any of them) are factual errors which in turn lead to incorrect routing.

I've fixed/added/deleted a number of things around my own town, and have had every change (that I didn't screw up myself somehow) be accepted. (Rejected edits came with feedback to improve the submission.)

In particular, Google had some completely bizarre and/or plainly impossible routes to get from my house to the nearest interstate, which made trips out of town very annoying whenever I'd actually take the time to set a destination before leaving.

For instance: I know the right and proper way to get to the highway; but the bitch inside my phone always insisted I was doing it wrong and that I should both drive around the block and use an entrance ramp an extra mile away for no good reason.

It turned out that some intersections were described improperly, with wrong-wayed streets leading to them, and incorrect turn restrictions. A few edits later (and some passage of time), and it's working fine.

Map Maker is a crowd-sourced moderator-based system, apparently including some concept of karma/reputation: Your edits are reviewed by your peers (and if not, eventually by Google), and if they're sane, they're applied. And if you have enough sanity in your edits, eventually it gets get easier/faster to have your edits "stick."

Previous to Map Maker they had a system on their regular Google Maps web interface where you could describe what was wrong (ie: complain) and they'd try to fix it themselves if you bothered to fill out the rather non-complicated form...but I only had about 50% luck with that actually producing correct results.

Re:Obvious... (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065886)

This is why GPS must be used intelligently. You've got to review a route rather than just taking it. At least the TomTom app gives you easy access to see the route (I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, perhaps the user interface isn't all that great on the older Garmins, I have an aviation Garmin from a few years ago and it's very slow, and the UI is shockingly bad).

Re:Obvious... (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065100)

Avoiding highways and using side roads raises the ire of the locals. Now, instead of sitting in a traffic jam, we can (without fear of getting lost) cut through the adjacent neighborhoods.

Re:Obvious... (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065536)

Avoiding highways and using side roads raises the ire of the locals. Now, instead of sitting in a traffic jam, we can (without fear of getting lost) cut through the adjacent neighborhoods.

Not necessarily.

When people planned trips with gas station maps they never left the freeway. Biggest risk they would take is a US Route.
When the freeway bypassed small towns those towns died.

Now with Nav units, and Google maps people will actually choose (horrors) State Highways (yup) when traveling. Recently we were delighted to find some great little towns with nice shops along our route when we deliberately set the the GPS to take us off the freeway via US routes and State routes. The distance was shorter, the view better, and the total time ended up about the same, because there is so little traffic and fewer traffic cops.

Folks in the restaurant in this one out of the way little berg in eastern Oregon said they saw a lot of people who found the place via Google maps or their GPS, and business had actually picked up since Street View car mapped the entire route. They were glad to have the business as was the local hotel.

When see the type of highway you will be driving on the back routes are far more fun, and the GPS makes sure you don't end up sleeping in the car.

Re:Obvious... (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065346)

That's what I do when I just want to drive around - though I take it one step further and just let it calculate the shortest route between a few random towns I don't recognize. If it warns me there's unpaved roads - all the better!

It's taken me past more windmills than I knew even existed around here, it's taken me to a little harbor town that looked like it should be a tourist trap but there was barely a soul in sight, it took me past two camels doing the procreation dance (note: I'm in western Europe, and no.. there wasn't a circus in town), it's taken me to back roads that were widened for agricultural traffic but were absolutely dead and going 180km/h was safe and nobody around to say otherwise and cite me, just as it's taken me to back roads that could hardly be called roads and all and required me to crawl along at 5km/h, zigzagging my way through what seemed like the path least likely to get my car (not a 4x4) stuck.

Some of my best 'just driving around' I owe to the GPS. I would rarely have ventured into random roads myself, as many of them here are traps into one-way mazes, or lead into housing areas where that very road is the only entry and exit road, but you'll never find it again once you're in the middle of the area.

More recently, I drove through the California mountain range at night. The GPS (on an Android phone) was a great help in anticipating what the road was going to do - especially in the Arizona/desert side where there's long straight roads that go up and down like a rollercoaster.. at least you think they go straight until you go up a hill and- oh hello, bend.

And in another instance, I very much appreciate GPS coupled with other information systems to get me to my destination as quickly as possible when I'm not traveling for the scenery, and the device can tell me to take a different road if it knows the one I'm on is congested and the alternate will get me there faster.

GPS creates two extremes. (4, Insightful)

BlakJak-ZL1VMF (256320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37064994)

1) Smart people who know how to take GPS information and couple it with some commonsense / a genuine interest in being a little self sufficient and a little clever about navigation.

2) People who don't care to know any better, and will simply treat them as a tool that prevents them from having to think. These are the kinds of people who will follow their GPS into a river / off a cliff / the wrong way on a one way street / etc.

When navigating in a foreign country or in a city i'm utterly unfamiliar with, the GPS is golden. But having only had a personal one for the last few months i'm working hard not to let it dilute my head-for-direction, by continuing to look at flat maps, find points of reference, and continue to let the 'relationships' between geographic locations build in my conciousness, particularly in my home city.

I've also found that GPS's don't always make smart navigation decisions; for example I don't believe that adding an additional 40% in distance for a theoretical 10% saving in time is actually smart driving, esp when that time saving is based on projected speed limits and doesn't deal to traffic, traffic lights, road works...

Re:GPS creates two extremes. (4, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065180)

It's certainly not black and white as you make it out to be. If I want to learn a particular area, I learn it, and the GPS becomes a learning aid. If I'm somewhere on business and just want to function in the region without worrying about where everything is, I'll often let the GPS do all the navigation. I'm not a retard, and don't take illegal exits or carpool lanes just because the stupid box thinks it'll get me there; I just don't need to learn the city. I'm not there to memorize their quirky stripes of concrete, I'm there to meet people and take care of business.

I've also found there's a wide variety in the quality of the various mapping tools. Some nav units are pretty good (Garmin), some are pretty bad (Sync), but none of the self-contained boxes I've used are as good as Google Maps at finding optimized routes. And none of the nav units is worth crap as far as parsing addresses. Having to type the number independently from the street is awkward. Having to pick a particular stretch of road based on street number (Sync) is a maddening exercise. Google just figures out how to parse whatever I throw at it, and it does a great job of it.

Re:GPS creates two extremes. (1)

bgat (123664) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065248)

I'm not a retard, and don't take illegal exits or carpool lanes just because the stupid box thinks it'll get me there

Right. And if Google Maps ever paid attention to the fact that no cars were following that portion of the route, it could conceivably decide on its own that there was something WRONG with the map at that point--- and then stop recommending that route.

This is the upside of providing location data. Sadly, I don't know how to prevent the downsides.

Re:GPS creates two extremes. (1)

BlakJak-ZL1VMF (256320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065320)

The 40%/10% example above comes straight out of Google Maps and the Nav tool on my Android.
I've been tinkering with iGO recently as an alternative.

Re:GPS creates two extremes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37065190)

That's awfully judgmental. Just because someone takes GPS for granted in their navigation, doesn't mean they're "people who don't think" or not clever. It's possible that they're just using their liberated brain power to do something more fruitful than navigate in their head.

Plato lamented that the invention of writing was causing people to lose the skills with memory, but I don't think that was an accusation that those who write are mentally lazy.

Re:GPS creates two extremes. (2)

BlakJak-ZL1VMF (256320) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065312)

Oh c'mon, it's nothing new.
Just ask anyone in emergency services who has to implement road closures due to an accident or similar.
This has a tendency to turn some motorists into melonheads because you've taken them off the one route they know about that gets them from A to B. Even when A is home and B is the same workplace they've commuted to for years.
Taking away people's need to think leaves them utterly without option when they're taken out of the comfort zone - say, for example, when the GPS fails.[1]

At least pre GPS folks actually had to look at a map, plan their route and were at least peripherally aware that alternatives existed. And heck, maybe they'd even carry their map in the car to consult if a road was blocked/closed?

Yes of course my comment was a generalisation. However I do think that the bell curve is being flattened by GPS.

[1]Ironically the one thing the GPS is good at, is 'rerouting' and giving you an option that doesn't require you to stop and consult a map. But my point stands. It actually reminds me of the difference between catching someone their fish for dinner, and teaching them to fish...

Re:GPS creates two extremes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37065682)

2) People who don't care to know any better, and will simply treat them as a tool that prevents them from having to think. These are the kinds of people who will follow their GPS into a river / off a cliff / the wrong way on a one way street / etc.

Technology Leads More Park Visitors Into Trouble [nytimes.com]

Far more common but no less perilous, park workers say, are visitors who arrive with cellphones or GPS devices and little else — sometimes not even water — and find themselves in trouble. Such visitors often acknowledge that they have pushed themselves too far because they believe that in a bind, the technology can save them.

It does not always work out that way. “We have seen people who have solely relied on GPS technology but were not using common sense or maps and compasses, and it leads them astray,” said Kyle Patterson, a spokesman for Rocky Mountain National Park, just outside Denver.

11-Year-Old Boy Dies After Mom Says GPS Left Them Stranded in Death Valley [foxnews.com]

She told rescuers in California's San Bernardino County that her son Carlos died Wednesday, days after she fixed a flat tire and continued into Death Valley, relying on directions from a GPS device in the vehicle.

Ignore the fact it's fox for the second article for now and think about how insane that second one is. Given how blindly people rely on tech, I'm amazed it doesn't happen more often.

Yeah, knowing how to use gps and all that might be great when you're in a city, but if you're going to be roughing it you should carry the most simple of technologies (compasses, maps, etc) instead of things that use damned batteries or rely on signals to external technologies to function.

It's making us too dependent on technology (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065006)

Maps and street signs don't need batteries.

Re:It's making us too dependent on technology (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065062)

i don't know about you, but if I tried to read a map while driving people would die and property would be damaged.

Re:It's making us too dependent on technology (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065090)

I keep paper maps (and a compass) but signs in South Carolina aren't much use.

What I do find useful is printing Google Map Satellite view photos of my destination. I even do this for routine tasks like picking up junk cars. I don't bother using my GPS much.

Re:It's making us too dependent on technology (1)

Mspangler (770054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065148)

"Maps and street signs don't need batteries."

Nor do compasses. One of next week's projects is to take my daughter out into the National Forest with a map and compass and teach her to navigate, or orienteer as they used to call it.

Re:It's making us too dependent on technology (2)

Charcharodon (611187) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065150)

Those "street sign" thingies don't exist in an organized fashion in England and other European countries I've visited where the roads and the locals have been their 700+ years before you showed up who really never put much thought in the fact that most of their streets had no signs.

Often I found myself driving around a village or town lost, unable to find the side street I was looking for only to find it on the way back out of town realizing it was on a wall or house that was only viewable from the street going in one direction.

GPS elimintated alot of that nonsense.

Re:It's making us too dependent on technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37065452)

Thanks to people like you, alots [blogspot.com] are on the verge of extinction!

Re:It's making us too dependent on technology (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065170)

We ARE already dependent on technology. Maybe even too dependent. If you're worried about GPS removing our ability to navigate, I think you're worrying about the wrong problem.

Most people around here could not even remotely survive without technology. And I'm not even talking about fancy things like electricity.

Re:It's making us too dependent on technology (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065524)

Maps and street signs don't need batteries.

And they don't need gasoline for driving the car.
Neither do they need sails for boats.
Or even wood only for the fire.

Did I get your point well?

GPS kills (2)

danbuter (2019760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065014)

At least a few people every year die because they go out into the boonies with a GPS and no map. The GPS puts them on some kind of goat trail, they get stuck, and then found a month later, dead.

Re:GPS kills (2)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065060)

Well, yes. I just went through this a couple of weeks ago on a hiking trip. We hiked on snowed-over unmarked trails. Without a GPS it would have been impossible. OTOH we had compasses and maps to back up the GPS and constantly referred back to the printed maps and got a bearing by compass so we knew at all times which way to bail if the GPS died.

But the USFS was busy recovering people from the same area who went in with a GPS and no maps, and then got totally lost when the GPS died. From what I gathered, 2 rescues / day.... These were unhurt parties who lost their way. No business being out there in the first place.

Re:GPS kills (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065116)

Well, yes. I just went through this a couple of weeks ago on a hiking trip. We hiked on snowed-over unmarked trails. Without a GPS it would have been impossible. OTOH we had compasses and maps to back up the GPS and constantly referred back to the printed maps and got a bearing by compass so we knew at all times which way to bail if the GPS died.

But the USFS was busy recovering people from the same area who went in with a GPS and no maps, and then got totally lost when the GPS died. From what I gathered, 2 rescues / day.... These were unhurt parties who lost their way. No business being out there in the first place.

Well, a backup GPS and extra certainly helps. :} But yes, you're absolutely right that being able to read a topo map and use a compass is invaluable if all else fails.

Re:GPS kills (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065298)

Absolute basics will save those with no maps or GPS. Walk downhill until you get to a stream. You now have water. Follow that downstream until you hit a road. Stand in the road until someone hits you or stops. I've never seen anywhere that would fail, short of rural Alaska where there are no roads and you would make it to th ocean with those directions, but locals manage to get lost and die in those conditions with great regularity.

Re:GPS kills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37065602)

Sounds so simple. Just walk out. No problem. Why do we even have GPS? Just find your own way with basics.

Re:GPS kills (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065706)

walk out doesn't work when people walk in because they don't have any clue where "out" is.

Re:GPS kills (2)

nick0909 (721613) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065618)

From my experience working on a Search & Rescue team I must say someone having the knowledge of how to navigate with a map and compass is pretty rare. Congrats on always having a backup, that is what will save you. I have rescued people that were out on a million dollar snow cat with space-aged GPS and laptops with moving maps, it all turned in to a huge pile of useless crap when it slid sideways down a hill and got stuck against some logs. They had no backup, no other plan. Technology won't save you, knowledge and planning will. Oh, and I was a bit shocked at first... "recoveries" are for dead bodies, "rescues" are for live ones. I hope the USFS wasn't busy doing recoveries all day...

Re:GPS kills (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065084)

Who finds them? I hope it's not the next bunch of travellers who followed their GPS...

Re:GPS kills (4, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065290)

One of my favorite scenes from the movie "Rat Race" was when Whoopi Goldberg followed Kathy Bates' instructions to the freeway without buying a squirrel from her. As they're plunging down the embankment to land in the pile of wrecked cars, they pass a series of hand-lettered signs:

You
Should
Have
Bought
A
Squirrel

Re:GPS kills (2)

plover (150551) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065220)

Bullshit. Stupidity kills those people, not GPS.

GPS shouldn't get the blame because someone was capable of buying a unit and following it to his doom. That's like blaming the gasoline in his tank for taking him to the middle of the desert.

I am so fucking tired of people trotting out these stupid examples, and blaming the technology. Stupid people are always going to find novel ways to remove themselves from the gene pool. If you think they deserve any attention at all, then celebrate them -- read about them winning Darwin awards and have a laugh. Read about them in Fark (the Florida tag is good for lots of them.) Watch an episode of the Worlds Dumbest <blank>. But just as you don't blame the alligator for biting the guy teasing it with a fish, you don't blame the GPS for showing someone a road that doesn't have services on it. That's just amplifying the stupid with your own comments.

Re:GPS kills (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065286)

At least a few people every year die because they go out into the boonies with a GPS and no map. The GPS puts them on some kind of goat trail, they get stuck, and then found a month later, dead.

What would have been different if they had a map instead of or in addition to a gps? They still have seen the goat trail on it, still have gotten stuck, and still found a month later dead.

Discovery is easier when it's harder to get lost (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065016)

To the contrary, GPS and live maps are an amazing tool for discovery. Not only can you see potentially interesting things around you, but you feel more at ease going to see them because you know it's easy enough to find your way back to the main path...

That said, I wish makers of navigation software would make it easier to define many possible side paths you were interested in ahead of time.

How will we discover? Shirley? YOU JEST! (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065020)

Seriously. While I admit that discovering things for yourself can sometimes be really cool. In a lot of cases, you'll see that people discovering things tend to be in LOTS of trouble (Shackleton anyone?). Like breaking down in a one-horse town after the horse has been stabled for the night.

On the flip side, I think the fact that you CAN find your way out of an area with GPS makes people more WILLING to go places they don't know.

Paper maps KINDA filled this niche, but static route plans tend to not survive interruptions. If you come across a construction area on a highway somewhere and want to detour around, paper route plans leave you screwed. With GPS, it updates as your route changes.

Re:How will we discover? Shirley? YOU JEST! (1)

_4rp4n3t (1617415) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065146)

breaking down in a one-horse town after the horse has been stabled for the night

I read this as breaking down in a one-horse town after the horse has been stabbed for the night, which probably says a lot about some of the one-horse towns in I've seen in Scotland.

Re:How will we discover? Shirley? YOU JEST! (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065812)

breaking down in a one-horse town after the horse has been stabled for the night

I am in London: I read that as "after the horse has been stabbed for the night".

This topic shows GPS is quite different in Europe compared to USA, partly because the roads are different. The majority of journeys I do, I known reasonably well. I use the GPS because, if there is a problem, I want to be able to turn off, and rely on the GPS to take me through back roads. It usually predicts very good routes, and when they are not the best, its often for a good reason. I had one that could handle the traffic so well that 3 hour journeys through central London were done in an hour using empty side streets.

Of course I don't do everything it says: my first one tried to send me down a flight of stairs in Cornwall!

I find it very interesting to look at features either side of me, and use the GPS to find out what they are.

Re:How will we discover? Shirley? YOU JEST! (1)

danbeck (5706) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065242)

I'm pretty sure I'm GOING to get marked as a troll, but I found it ODD that you used caps a lot to emphasize your sentences. Do you realize how MUCH you actually do this?

Business trips (4, Insightful)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065030)

Well I don't usually use GPS much when I'm on holiday, or when I'm in my home country, since I know most of it pretty well after 30 years. But for me the biggest benefit of ubiquitous GPS (first on separate GPS devices, then on phones) is on BUSINESS trips.

The boss sends you to some random city/country you've never been to before. You land there at 8pm and the taxi takes you to a hotel somewhere. You have a meeting first thing tomorrow morning - how far away is the place you're going? Walking distance or will I need to get a taxi? Is there a train line near the hotel?

I'm feeling a bit hungry, I wonder if there's a convenience store nearby where I can buy a snack. It's 11pm, most things are shut and I'm in a strange city. I could wander around aimlessly until I find something or I could type in "7/11" or whatever on my phone and see all the nearby locations on the map in relation to me.

Even more importantly: argh - I'm out of cash, and this stupid shop doesn't accept card payments under . Where's the nearest ATM in this bloody city? Previously, a pain in the ass. Now, no problem at all.

Basically having GPS in my pocket at all times has made my business trips far less stressful!

Re:Business trips (2)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065272)

Basically having GPS in my pocket at all times has made my business trips far less stressful!

For me, it's ALL kinds of trips! Even towns I kinda know are more pleasant when I can just get to the nearest bank branch, grocery store, fast food joint, hotel, or whatever. It lets me get the inane stuff out of the way without worry, so I have more time and physical/mental energy to enjoy the experience itself.

Also, a drive is much more pleasant when I can queue up an impromptu TED talk or stream something I actually like when I'm stuck in country-music-and-spanish-only radio station territory on a long drive.

And then, when I get a nice shot next to the Bay or under the airplane wing, I can instantly share it with my family and friends. This, too is often a nice way to enjoy the experience even further.

My Android smart phone/GPS isn't just nice, it's a game-changer.

Re:Business trips (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065518)

Your forgetting the most beneficial search of all, where the closest hookers are at! Screw the rest of the stuff, business time is hooker time!

Rogaining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37065042)

Doing a bit of rogaining [wikipedia.org] was he best thing I ever did to improve my ability to navigate. "Rogaining" is also the name of a classic book on how to navigate off the landscape, observing things like the lie of the land, how it fits together and the keeping in mind that the global landscape must be consistent with what you observe locally as you pass through the landscape.

Re:Rogaining (1)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065126)

Doing a bit of rogaining [wikipedia.org] was he best thing I ever did to improve my ability to navigate.

So how does growing hair help? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogain [wikipedia.org] :}}

How does it affect me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37065068)

I boldly go where I haven't been before, but I have learned my lesson of not at least looking over the route the old fashion way after a GPS unit sent me off into the hills in Ireland looking for a bed and breakfast. Instead it took me to a cell tower about 20 miles away which was technically on the same road.

I move often being in the military and go even more places for temporary duty, the first week or so I'm pretty dependent on the GPS, each week after that I use it less and less. By the time the first month has gone by I'm down to simply using it to tell me the names of the cross streets before I get to them or being able to tell at a glance if a side street goes through to another main road.

By the end of the year I just use to tell my ETA in order to find more efficient routes or when I need to call and tell work I'm going to be late when stuck in traffic.

As far as using it out in the middle of no where I use it more to tell where I am rather than where I am going, or for back tracking, usually the maps for your typical car GPS are incomplete when out in the wilderness and aren't much use.

There ARE places (2)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065164)

There still are places, believe it or not, in the world where humans have never (or very rarely) trodden. Even in those places where humans have trodden, there are many that are poorly documented, explored, or studied. I don't think that GPS changes us very much at all. The majority of people still stay at home or close to areas that they know. There are people who rely on GPS to tell them where to go, and what streets to follow. Then there are other people, probably a minority, who go where they need to go to find out something interesting, or research something where there probably aren't any streets; in those cases GPS coordinates are merely extra metadata. I, personally, don't care about the people in cities who need a GPS to find a post office or whatever. For those people doing real work, a GPS is merely a more accurate and modern system of identifying (and recording) coordinates of interesting things.

Re:There ARE places (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065198)

I'd like to add to my comment above that if there are people out there who think the world is "GPSified" then they have lost their sense of wonder.

An example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37065288)

An example is the Wollemi [wikipedia.org] . Adjacent to a city of 4.5 million people, yet it is so isolated that in 1994 a 40 metre high species of tree [wikipedia.org] was found there, that had only even been seen in fossil records.

anecdote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37065184)

Me and my friend are in the car, just got out of Target. We type in Staples on the GPS to look for it. *BEEP* 0.1 miles. The Staples was the building adjacent to Target. X(

The world seems smaller now. (1)

crovira (10242) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065224)

Its a lot harder to be ignorant of the world and of your place in it when you can find just about anything, anywhere, anytime.

The religious leaders don't like an informed populace.

They just want them to memorize the Bible/Qran/Torah and do as they're told.

Dead Reckoning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37065238)

I'm afraid that long term GPS usage would lead to a loss or lessening of my natural DR abilities.

Duh, indeed (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065284)

[Title asks:] "How Does GPS Change Us?"

Dependency, stupid.

Timothy is likely no more "aware of location" now when he isn't tethered to a satellite than when those satellites never existed at all. The technology hasn't really changed him at all, he's just dependent upon it.

GPS Doesn't Solve Any Problems (4, Interesting)

rocketPack (1255456) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065316)

I used to have to ask someone where the nearest this or that could be found. I used to have to ask how to get from A to B. Local landmarks used to be paramount in navigation and route finding. Now we can haplessly ignore the locals and find our own way straight to the restaurant we chose based on Yelp reviews. Word of mouth is not very useful anymore, at least not in the traditional sense. What I'm getting at, is that smaller cities/towns lose control of their identity. It's the internet that decides which restaurants and hotels are the best, and how to get around town. I'm not trying to commend on whether or not this is better or worse, but it's hard to find one piece of technology which has contributed so much to this trend.

GPS has removed the need to "memorize" local street patterns or common routes. Why bother to remember how to get to your favorite vacation spot when GPS will "always" be there to guide you? (Again, this is stripping local landmarks of their significance)

In another sense, GPS (GNSS for those of you modern enough to embrace foreign constellations) has really complicated the idea of "location." The instability of consumer-grade GPSr observations and the steep price curve for more accurate instruments has created a rather cluttered mess. Everyone seems to think that their coordinates are better than the other guy. I'm in the land surveying/geomatics field, and even at that level GPS is rarely brought up in legal disputes because it's just not an acceptable replacement for good old fashioned direct measurements (or acceptable substitutions, like EDMs).

In my opinion, GPS/GNSS has not solved *any* issues in the civilian world. It has (over)simplified and depersonalized navigation (non GNSS alternatives exist and have worked wonderfully for centuries), created clutter and confusion, and in conjunction with the internet helped to strip local societies of their identity.

Maybe, but exploration was already dead (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065324)

The GPS may have hurt exploration, but it was already put on life support by by the cell phone (which greatly reduces the danger associated with exploration) and Flickr & YouTube & Street View. With physical exploration dead, youth now instead explore societal bounds (to the detriment of society).

OK, but LightSquared: (GPS units subject to RFI) (1)

neurocutie (677249) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065326)

Many GPS units do not have adequate filtering against RF interference from adjacent spectrum. LightSquared owns 1500Mhz spectrum that it wants to use for terrestial LTE networks. Currently it interferes with GPS, but it is really the GPS's industry's fault, not LightSquared. The implication is that we may have to re-buy much of the GPS units we now own, because current units will be worthless when LTE turns on their LTE network. The FCC is trying to figure out how to solve this problem, but it seems inescapable that at least partial blame is with the GPS industry.

http://www.lightsquared.com/press-room/press-releases/gps-industrys-failure-to-comply-with-department-of-defense/ [lightsquared.com]

In short, LightSquared claims that the GPS industry is ignoring the Department of Defense's recommended filtering standards, as well as ignoring the International Telecommunications Union's international standard for GPS receivers and transmitters. According to the DoD recommendations, GPS systems are supposed to employ filters to make sure GPS signals don't interfere with adjacent spectrum. The ITU's standard calls for a 4MHz guard band between GPS and the nearest spectrum.

The GPS industry has a responsibility to use its licensed spectrum in accordance with international and federal government standards – not for LightSquared’s sake, but for the sake of the American people who own the public airwaves and who fund the GPS satellite system.

"The GPS industry benefits from an estimated $18 billion taxpayer subsidy to offer a commercial service that is completely dependent on a government satellite system. Despite the federal handout, they have deliberately ignored Defense Department criteria for using the restricted system,” Carlisle said. “LightSquared remains committed to working in partnership with responsible members of the GPS industry and for the benefit of the public by creating good-paying jobs and economic opportunity at a time when America desperately needs both.”

Video games had already changed our thinking (2)

javakah (932230) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065352)

A few points:

Q. How do we discover the 'new'?
A: We are more likely to discover the new BECAUSE of GPS. Without GPS you are much more likely to stick with major routes to your destination. With our (perhaps over-) confidence in the guidance of GPS, we are more prone to take out of the way routes as suggested by the GPS. This is how we can discover the 'new'. Additionally with confidence in GPS, I know that I am a lot more willing to try to even go to new places that I haven't been before. I can tell you from personal experience that just going with printed Mapquest directions and a map or two does not lead to marital bliss and made me not want to go to new places nearly as much. It's far better going to new places now that we have GPS.

Q. Is it damaging our navigational ability?
A: Does the use of a compass also damage our navigational ability? You could argue that the GPS in fact can help our navigational ability by showing us how distorted our own viewpoint can be. You find the same thing though with a compass.

Q. Is it changing how we think about travel and explorations?
They point to the need for more multi-tasking skills, etc. This may be a change for Baby Boomers, but I would argue that it's actually moving navigation into sync for the younger generation. We are used to multi-tasking. Additionally, when I first got a GPS, it felt EXTREMELY comfortable. Suspiciously so. Then I realized that it was a real-life mini-map! I was tremendously used to navigating in less familiar (albeit virtual) environs with the help of a minimap, while keeping most of my attention on the new environs, after all, if I didn't pay attention to where I was going in the world before, I could run into some nasty dragon, etc. The younger generation is already thinking about travel and exploration in the way that GPS pushes us, due to video games.

Re:Video games had already changed our thinking (1)

Shuntros (1059306) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065616)

Try aviation GPS, that's a whole new level of comfortable. Instead of correlating the information presented to you by a bunch of different gauges tuned to 60yr old radio beacons you just follow the pink line. Need to land at an airport in thick fog? No problem; switch on approach mode and simply fly through the boxes displayed on the screen, or enable synthetic vision mode and you essentially get a video-game recreation of the terrain, runway, everything.. just not the fog.

Another poster was right, GPS is just a bunch of clocks sending out pulses whose transit times you compare to establish location, but the quality of applications designed around it is simply stunning. One of the best inventions of the 20th century in my opinion.

Re:Video games had already changed our thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37065790)

A few points:

Q. How do we discover the 'new'?

In a rental car in South Carolina we were vaguely aware of something called the 'Angel Oak' (said to be the oldest living thing in the USA east of the Mississippi). I typed 'Angel Oak' into a borrowed GPS.

It led us right there.

GPS is the game-changer, here.

AC

true. when i was in somalia (0)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065356)

i was starving to death because of the worst drought in sevral decades, a government that doesnt exist, etc etc.

thank goodness i had GPS. i was able to mark exactly where i died, so that i will not become a ghost, wandering the desert - someone in my clan will find me and give me a proper burial.

GPS does not equal mapping. (2)

Whatsisname (891214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065394)

From the summary:

My own experience is that GPS has made me much more aware of location, by showing me the bird's-eye view, and letting me instantly compare alternate routes.

You apparently don't know what GPS actually is, because GPS has nothing to do with bird-eye views nor comparing alternate routes. All GPS does is tell you the time and where on the planet you are.

Routing and mapping are not exclusive to GPS.

Re:GPS does not equal mapping. (1)

nick0909 (721613) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065648)

I get a kick out of showing people the GPS I use for hiking/snowmobiling. It shows my coordinates, and lets me point an arrow towards other coordinates. No maps, no trails, no color, just on 1 inch screen. The battery lasts forever, its waterproof, totally reliable. But people see it and say "ewwww how do you know where you are?" I don't need a big color picture, but most people do I guess, and that is "GPS" for the rest of the world.

Re:GPS does not equal mapping. (1)

adolf (21054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065814)

I assume by "people" you mean folks who aren't also hikers/snowmobilers.

Half of the fun of hiking is paying attention to surroundings and finding a different/more interesting/faster path from A to B. And for that, an arrow pointing the way might even be ideal over a map or a chart.

I don't do much hiking, so I have no use for standalone basic GPS+compass gear which has long battery life. But I do the same thing in the car, sometimes, with the Droid: Set a waypoint with [random GPS app], and go there -- no map needed.

It's not typically an efficient way to navigate in car, but that's OK: I occasionally burn up a day or two at a time driving just for fun, and this adds to my enjoyment. (Though using dead reckoning on a cloudy day to reach a distant point is fun, too.)

Great for Cycling (1)

wrook (134116) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065402)

About 5 years ago I ditched my car and replaced it with a bicycle. What hit me pretty quickly (especially since I wasn't in great shape) was that I didn't want to ride around for hours on end finding things. In a car, if you make a mistake or simply want to try a new route somewhere, going an extra couple of km is nothing. On the bike it was frustrating, tiring and at the end of it I was always worried if I would remember how to get home again (without adding an extra 5 km to my trip). The GPS made a huge difference to me and enabled me to get a better handle on if the distance was too far, etc, etc. I remember always jumping through hoops to take buses to the train station and one day I punched it into the GPS and realised that it was only 20K. After that I never took the bus again.

On the down side, the GPS always gives me the shortest route to my goal. As I live near mountains, this translates to always giving me the steepest route to my goal. It took me a while to jam that into my head. It would be nice if the GPS had a feature to avoid gradients of over 7% or so...

GPS for me means super powers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37065404)

Seriously, when I finally broke down and purchased a GPS I felt like I'd developed a sixth sense overnight.
"When I clear this curve, there will be a road to the left. It is 'Spence Lane'. I know this even though the sign is long gone."
"There is a large body of water on the other side of those trees."
"It looks as if I'm in the middle of nowhere but I know that there is a small town within walking distance to the East."
And so on, and so on...

GPS changing us? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37065422)

GPS can't change those who don't use it -- and I expect there are a lot more who don't than do. Sounds like something to worry about later, if at all...

Re:GPS changing us? (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065432)

> GPS can't change those who don't use it -- and I expect there are a lot more who don't than do. Sounds like something to worry about later, if at all...

I don't use GPS and don't plan to. These days I look at Google Maps on the iPhone, and it is "good enough." There is nothing to worry about because I have basic map skills.
i.e.
I used to do deliveries in Greater Vancouver to help pay for my university education. I never got lost. I had one of those big honkin map books, _read_ the map book, and planned my to-from route BEFORE I set off. These days people have become so dependent on technology that they can't even manage basic skills of *gasp* reading a map, figuring out where they are, and what direction they need to head to get to their destination.

My experience on exploration (2)

tanveer1979 (530624) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065484)

I use GPS quite heavily, but most of my usage is moving map apps, which do not try to route for me. They show me a map, where I am, and where I am headed, Its upto me to chose the route and explore.
Now maybe 5 years ago, when I did not have any GPS, I would have never dared to explore a 200km long salt flat.
But today, I can leave the main road, drive in the flat laying down my GPS track. If I am unable to find an exit point, all I do is retrace my track.

I has also helped me explore some high altitude himalayan deserts. No roads are marked, just a black space showing me my "track". By looking at the compass, and having a town on the other end as my "destination" I can plan my route by hit and trial.

For example, I recently went to a lake system called Kyun Tso in the himalayas.
As I left the last village, the track bifurcated into multiples. I took the vehicle up the wrong track and ended up on a 4700m high flat plain.
But no panic, we took some pics, admired the view, and then followed our track back to the fork, and then took the other one.

So we could actually "explore" without fear of getting lose 5000m above sea level.
Considering, some locals do this once a week or even less, if you get lost up there, help can be days away.

But GPS allows you the freedom to be an explorer.

I quickly have mapped all that on openstreetmap, and future offroaders can follow my tracks easily.

Then there is the dark side.
When I am in US, I am tempted to let the navigation app to do my routing, and often I end up on roads I do not want to be on. For example, a freeway 20kms long can be cut short by a 5km path within the town, the app chooses that, and I end up spending 1 hour in traffic jams.
So yes, its good, and bad.

Last but not the least, there was a story some time back "Death by GPS".
This is what you get for blindly trusting your navigation app.

So best way is to use your GPS as an informer, or a walking stick, not as your crutch.

Re:My experience on exploration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37065652)

I have trekked and droven in higher himalayas all my life. Got lost many times , some times almost faced death . Trust me what you describe above has nothing to do with exploration. The elements are not same and feeling is different when you have a safety net....All GPS is doing is enabling people like you who actually dont deserve to be at those places, leaving heaps of garbage in otherwise untouched lands.

From the other side of the question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37065496)

The other side is "how does it NEED to change everyone else?" That is still a huge issue that affects third world countries: there is an absolute lack of a "map culture". Guess how that affects people who do have GPS... [xkcd.com]

Google Earth / maps has taken a very long time to start actually showing street data to lay over the sat photos; I'm sure it's not for the lack of trying.

Why do you even need it? (1)

deathtopaulw (1032050) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065590)

There is nothing worse than seeing another drooling, gps-addled half-wit darting back over the danger zone of an exit and nearly causing an accident. I honestly think they should be banned completely. I've found that merely studying my google maps for any destination and having a basic concept of direction (all of 5 minutes of work) are far more useful. And since one more megabyte of your internal brain-ram is now free from glancing nervously at the little glowing rectangle stuck to your windshield, you are more free to actually notice that hole-in-the-wall Indian place you wanted to try.

Warrant singer Jani Lane found dead. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37065598)

He helped usher in GPS with such chart hits as "Down Boys" and "Cherry Pie". These hits established GPS as a force on the rock'n'roll map.

Definitely (1)

broothal (186066) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065612)

I got my first GPS more than a decade ago - primarily for geocaching. I got TomTom Navigator in 2002. Has it changed me? I reckon so. My sense of directions has definitely faded. I rely quite heavily on a device to tell me where to go, and I simply do not waste any braincycles on the road to the destination.

Like on of the above posters, the biggest benefit for me is business trips. Before phones had built in GPS I had a small Dell PDA with built in GPS solely for business trips.

Also, I remember getting lost in China. Since the map I had was written in Western style, I couldn't even ask for guidance to a named street, because it was called something else in Chinese. Now GPS is the most important accessory when traveling.

Re:Definitely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37065854)

I've got an ipaq and a bluetooth gps brick, and did the same thing years ago. Quite honestly, the coolest feature I've ever seen is the map on my BB pearl. It actually told you what cross street you were coming up on, in nice, big letters. I'd give anything to have that again, obviously our city doesn't feel that having street signs is at all important, which sucks if you're delivering pizza, or saving lives, or anywhere in between.

Nobody knows where anything is (1)

jbrodkin (1054964) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065640)

My own experience is that on those rare occasions when I need to ask someone directions, no one has any idea where anything is, even if they live or work in the area I am lost in. I'm not sure whether to blame GPS, or general human stupidity. Luckily, my phone GPS usually works.

Discovery isn't dead... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37065644)

I discover things everyday. Things that people next to me don't even notice. In the middle of the city, or on some country road, doesn't matter. You just have to look for it. Asking a piece of plastic where things are just isn't the way to do things. Also, if you need a GPS to get around your own town, then please, do us all a favor, and don't. Even my dog knows his way around the place where he lives.

Yeah, I seen it (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065856)

I live in China, and one of my favorite pastimes in my town was to ride my electric moped around and discover new places. Who knows where the road leads? What, I got lost? Big deal, it just helps to get to know the city. After a while, I got a reputation as the guy to ask when someone needed to know where something was.

About a year ago, a new arrival in town showed me her iPhone. It had integrated GPS with Google Maps, in English even. All the shops were there, even the small ones. I saw a place I wanted to go, and asked her how to get there. She said she had no idea, she just popped up a window with the address in Chinese and showed it to the taxi. Getting around town by bike was a foreign idea to her. She also showed me her Chinese food menu (bilingual with photos) and her voice activated translation program (just speak and it translates to Chinese). I said, "Wow, with this you don't need to know anything or speak Chinese at all." She said, "Yeah, isn't it great!" I just sighed.

does gps erode your sense of direction? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37065888)

i don't use gps, but if i get lost i sorta usually know which direction i need to go.

for those that use gps a lot, do you find yourself completely lost without it or you you retain that sense of which way you should go?

what happens when your gps contradicts your sense of direction? which one do you trust more?

Tools (1)

wye43 (769759) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065918)

New tools make things easier for us. So we spend less effort on that activity. So that area of brain is not used anymore. So we are atrophying. Thus, its better for us to go back to pre-stone age era. Long live sophism!

Every single new technology that actually proved useful and had wide-spread usage had this discussion. Nothing to see here, move on.

I drive more slowly. (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065944)

I tend to log GPS data for uploading to OpenStreetMap so I stick very closely to the speed limits, and slow down when I'm negotiating complex twisty side streets so I get better resolution.

Bike rides (1)

Jaro (4361) | more than 2 years ago | (#37065948)

I really enjoy just riding into the sun with my bike (as in bicycle) without any real direction, checking out new routes I've not tried before. Thanks to GPS I know I can always find my way back. So in a way it makes me stupid (I don't have to remember the way I came from), it makes me lazy (not planning routes ahead) but it also makes me more adventurous taking me where my bike has not taken me before, discovering new places.

My experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37065950)

Some years ago, I moved to a big city, used to live in a small village beforehand, so GPS wasn't much use anyway. In the beginning, I was heavily relying on GPS systems to get me where I wanted inside the city, and in the end what happened was that there were some "islands" in the city that I knew pretty well: The immediate vincinity of my flat, the area around my workplace, or where my regular bars were located. However, everything in between was a big black hole, and if you had asked me how to get from one island to the next, I'd have shrugged and pointed at the navigation system (or I had just used the subway).

Then, big shock, I decided to buy a motorbike. From one day to the next, no GPS anymore, since navigation systems for bikes are horribly expensive, and the phone is just impractical since you need to stop, take of the gloves, get the phone, etc... So I actually had to memorize where I wanted to go beforehand. I was lost more than once, but these days I have a much better understanding of the city I live in, and I even got to see places that I have never seen in my whole car-driving-time. Many times now, I can even skip looking at the map beforehand, simply because I know already how to get where I want. I also noticed, that when you listen to the instructions of the GPS system, I tend to pay less attention to my surroundings. Of course I'd watch the traffic, but I'd hardly see anything beyond that, and that is something that has remarkably changed since I don't rely on it anymore.

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