Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Maps- More Nostalgia

I know that sometimes I blather on about how things change, how things should stay the same, yadaya, but it really is something I think about. The cliche about how change is the only constant is so true.

Anyway, I get lost a lot. It's sort of a given that if I drive somewhere even remotely new-to-me, I will get lost. This is especially true if I have a passenger in the car. Driving with me is always an experience. Which leads me to think about maps, as I need them a lot. In the olden days, like, you know, 10+ years ago, when I learned to drive, I would plan my route by asking for directions ahead of time from someone who lived or worked at my destination, or someone who had been there. They would think about which route they took most commonly, and I would write down these directions and follow them to the best of my ability as reading and driving is not easy to do and apparently when I read while I drive, I become dyslexic (I'm not dyslexic at any other time) so I would frequently end up lost. The other option is that I would look at a map and plan a route and follow that. Sometimes I would also end up lost and end up pulling over and either consulting a map or a handy stranger in a gas station or some other convenient direction-seeking place.

On the other hand, when I drive now, if it's a destination with a person, I'll occasionally ask for directions. More often, I'll ask for the address and "mapquest it". Apparently, to "mapquest" or to "google" something are verbs now, defined as "to type an address into a mapping program on the computer and to come up with driving directions." These directions also come complete with a map, and a route that should take you from Point A to Point B. In theory. But since these directions do not come complete with a human, or a real map with other streets, there is no way to know if you're really going to end up at Point B. For example, it is clear to me on this map that there are about 800 ways to get to that little green arrow. However, if I entered the address of that little green arrow into a mapping program on my computer, I would be given one and only one route, and once I printed this out, I would feel in some inexplicable way committed to this route. I would also be depending on this route to be correct. Yesterday I followed a google map to a very clearly incorrect destination. Somehow my brain was in a smart mode yesterday, and I found my destination- frequently this is not the case. I also used a "real" map yesterday to find a different location. It was quite pleasant to be able to choose my own route.

And because I'm so behind the times, I don't even know what it feels like to drive with a GPS giving you directions as you go. I'm not looking forward to it.