The topic of maps also bubbled up (incidentally, we discovered this map store near Harvard Square). We talked about how portable electronics like GPS devices and iPhones have taken over the need for maps, and made it easy for people to never learn how to use maps. We agreed that map reading is a skill, and with that skill came a certain freedom to enjoy being in a particular space, instead of feeling trapped by a mini-LCD.
I love maps. I love the bird’s eye view, I love knowing how my immediate surroundings fit into that view, and I love being able to look at a map to conjure up 3D images of the city in my mind as I had experienced it years ago. I love not missing a turn and having to make u-turns, I love being able to anticipate an upcoming turn and merge safely/accordingly, and I love being able to get from point A to point B without crossing point C, where construction is happening for this month only. I have experienced more than a few GPS devices, and none came close to the efficiency of a well-made-map + using my own noggin.
But I did experience a serious Navigational Fail recently, something that even the best combination of maps + brain cannot handle. It is thanks to what James H. Kunstler dubbed as the “National Automobile Slum.” Now, I’ve read/seen my share of Kunstler rants on this topic, and I have lived in many places as such (ie “undergrad years in Florida”), but this particular incident really gave me some food for thought like never before: