Friday, October 26, 2007

This way or that?

Brilliant op-ed in the New York Times today, titled "The Outsourced Brain".

"I have melded my mind with the heavens, communed with the universal consciousness, and experienced the inner calm that externalization brings, and it all started because I bought a car with a G.P.S. ... After a few weeks, it occurred to me that I could no longer get anywhere without [the GPS]. Any trip slightly out of the ordinary had me typing the address into her system and then blissfully following her satellite-fed commands. I found that I was quickly shedding all vestiges of geographic knowledge."

Obviously tongue-in-cheek in some respects, but this does stir my consciousness. How dependent are we becoming on the technology we use every day, and then of that, that which we take with us on our expeditions (sounds more adventurous than "trips" ;) - our GPS, EPIRB, VHF, cell phone, iPod, camera, Blackberry, Nokia NSeries, etc?

Some of these acronyms are definitely necessities from a safety perspective. But are we overloading our senses just that bit too much when we take away with us everything else to barrage our senses - what we may now also think of as necessities?

And then are we losing our last "vestiges of geographic knowledge"? This may even scare me more - losing that innate sense of "being there" that is so integral to actually being out on water with just a paddle to steer me by.


David said...

Well put. To expand slightly, how much does every "convenience," electronic or not, disconnect us from where we are? I'm a confessed chart nut, and the necessity of knowing one's location is obvious, but do I overdo it? Probably. On reflection, the experience of boating in known waters is very different from exploring, and my beloved charts do keep my head down more when I ply the new.

Kristen said...

Ah, but charts are a fetish; and that's okay ;p

DaveO said...

I like my gps (especially for finding deer stands in the dark) but I don't completely trust it. It is, after all, a piece of electronics. I'm also a chart-o-phile and have my compass and trusty clear compass rose with a long piece of dental floss in the middle for plotting kayak courses on my deck. And what fun would kayaking be if you couldn't shoot a bearing now and then?