Navigation System or a Map?
Saturday in northern Minnesota saw Eric, Kevin and I heading to a state park for our photographic adventure while on Eric’s Photofest. I drove my wife’s Acura RDX to Eric’s lake home and we used the navigation system to find our way to the park and back. Man! It was at least five times harder to use the nav system than it would’ve been if we’d had along a paper map.
Oh yeah…we didn’t just rely on the RDX nav system (which was included in the nearly $7k step up technology package we bought on this SUV) but we had Eric’s handheld GPS, three Palm smartphones (mine with Google Maps on it) and we fooled with all of them at some point on our return.
The problem was the navigation system wanted to return us via highways adding a dozen miles to the trip. We changed that to minimize highways to no avail. We took county roads that we knew went closer to Eric’s place and finally Kevin discovered (since he has an Acura TL with navigation) that if we selected “unverified” roads it would enable us to just start to drive one of these roads and then the system would reconfigure the trip back to Eric’s using the most direct route.
It’s not like these roads were gravel logging roads. These were paved, highway-like county roads that should be on any navigation system. The other amazing thing was watching my very techno-savvy buddy Eric being befuddled by the illogical menu structure and nomenclature to look something up. For example, discovering the Savanna State Park should have been in some sort of easily accessible hierarchy but instead brought up Savannah, Georgia and other Savanna’s. Shouldn’t this system be smart enough to know that lookups should be narrowed to areas one is driving in?
What was fascinating about this occurrence was how many people I know who have begun to rely completely on the navigation systems in their cars. My daughter will at some point since she’s navigationally challenged and my bride loves nav systems for much the same reason. If three guys like Eric, Kevin and myself are challenged to use thousands of dollars worth of systems like we had at our fingertips and find them inefficient and cumbersome to configure appropriately, what chance do others have?
The atlas you see to the right is one that I’ve used extensively over the years as I’ve poked around my state. It has every rural road and even logging roads in it and thus it’s incredibly simple to look up and plot a route at a glance. Even a Minnesota roadmap would’ve been more useful than our respective navigation electronics.
One more reason to understand the limitations of technology and to be pragmatic about their use.
About Steve Borsch
Connecting the Dots Podcast
Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.