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April 16, 2012

Technology dulls our experience of place, even as it makes travel easier

“GPS navigation, in its present form, …dulls our receptivity to our surroundings by granting us the supposed luxury of not having to pay attention to them at all. In travel facilitated by “location awareness,” we begin to encounter places not by attending to what they present to us, but by bringing our expectations to them, and demanding that they perform for us as advertised. In traveling through “augmented reality,” even the need for places to perform begins to fade, as our openness to the world gives way to the desire to paper over it entirely. It is an admission of our seeming distrust in places to be sufficiently interesting on their own. But in attempting to find the most valuable places and secure the greatest value from them, the places themselves become increasingly irrelevant to our experiences, which become less and less experiences of those places we go.”
–Ari N. Schulman, “GPS and the End of the Road,” New Atlantis, Spring 2011

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Category: Travel Quote of the Day


5 Responses to “Technology dulls our experience of place, even as it makes travel easier”

  1. Paul Says:

    My family want me to buy an expensive GPS system before I go travelling. I prefer to steer by the sun, intuition and some half decent local maps. All this modern focus on technology all fuelled by solar cells makes me wonder how Columbus ever found his way to the new world before Google Maps.

  2. DEK Says:

    I love the old kind of paper maps. They tell you just enough to pique the imagination, to suggest what may be there without telling you so much as to take away the excitement of actually going.

    And, unless they think you have marked where the treasure is, no one is going to rob you for your map.

  3. Sage Says:

    Great quote! Like DEK, I love paper maps and have boxes of them from all over the world. I still haven’t acquired a GPS for hiking, although I have one for the vehicle and have used them in boats when offshore.

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