Why is it crucial to navigate properly?
It’s something that slips onto and off the school curriculum. Something that, in this technically advanced world, we just don’t seem to need any more. It’s something that requires attention and concentration – both things that seem to be in sever drought at the moment. It demands abilities that have to be practiced and patience in reaching a state of unconscious competence. It’s the highly under-valued skill of interpreting a map using your brain.
So why is it crucial to navigate properly? Surely this is something that only our more extreme customers (e.g. Preppers, military types, Bushcraft experts, explorers, Duke of Edinburgh award participants and Scouts) would engage in. The rest of us are much more likely to rely upon machines to do the fairly routine task of placing us as a dot onto a moving map.
What do map readers have in common?
From Prepper to Scout, all the above customer groups have a common doctrine. That of self sufficiency. Each are trained, to different extents, that you need to take responsibility for your own actions. But as we get more “civilised” and reliant upon our complex machines we appear to do just the opposite. More and more of our day-to-day survival is effectively delegated to the machines. We kid ourselves this is just the routine stuff; the machines just support us. But as we drift toward driverless cars and increasing levels of artificial intelligence these machines get promoted. What once were useful tools that support our decisions are quickly becoming our decision making masters.
This may sound Sci-Fi, but the chimes of the future are getting louder. Just this week our friend Aleks Buczkowski wrote on his GeoAwsomeness column of two technologies and communication trends that converge to say we’re already there!
Recent History on Local History
Firstly, Google, in the spirit of openness has launched a new service, Google Location History, that lets us track back through our personal nomadic history (I guess since our first GPS enabled smart phone anyhow). All the “A to B” journeys we made with our innocent telephone in our pockets are accessible. This is great! I thought I’d never find that cafe again! Thanks Google.
But just think of the trade-off you’ve made. Somewhere upon the line, it will be argued that YOU gave permission for Google;
- to capture your location (remember that tick-box?),
- to store this on their servers,
- to use it for purposes they’ve not yet envisaged and
- to stay tight-lipped on how your data is going to be used, by whom, for what and how they will monetise it.
Remember, you traded all this on the basis that a bit of it may be useful to you in years to come to find illusive coffee shops you once visited on your way from A to B.
Aleks second story picks up the theme from the Mobile carriers perspective. Just how is our mobile data being monetised now? For our carriers (mobile telecom companies) this is already a very lucrative market worth billions of dollars. And they don’t even need you to enable your GPS! By simply moving between cells in their network you generate data worth cash to those who want to know where you are. Read Aleks article on how wireless carriers are making money on your location in one “emerging” market already worth $11bn!
I realise that these are well documented cases. But the number of cases now build into a trend that appears unstoppable in the broadest section of society. My message is DON’T be one of them! Use your brain to interpret where you are. Use your memory to remember those coffee shops and be careful how much reliance you put on machines and how much of “you” you are giving away FREE.
It won’t cost much and it’ll be fun. We’ve even made a film to make the basics super simple!
A life skill you’ll be glad you invested in. There are great navigation courses up and down the country. Most will train you on Ordnance Survey maps and others will start more simply with SplashMaps (generally regarded as easier to handle and more likely to survive anything).
In buying a SplashMap you’ve taken an important step toward self reliance. You’ve made no compromise on your location data and gained all these additional benefits beyond normal electronic and paper maps.