Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Technological revolution

I have a good sense of orientation. And I love maps. I still hang on to the set of maps that I used when biking through New Zealand twenty years ago (oh my God, has it really been that long?). 

My husband gave me a wonderful new atlas for Christmas year before last, my son’s huge “My fist World Map” is hanging in the kitchen beside the table where we usually eat, and has given us numerous occasions to talk about contries, places etc.

"Southern Germany" in my atlas - we live to the right
(i.e. East) and just a little bit up
from Munich 

Illustrated World Map in our kitchen

And so far we have refused to get a satellite navigation system for the car, which came without one when we bought it.  I strongly believe that the ability to read maps is an extremely important ‘soft skill’ which I want to use instead of being told where the computer thinks I should be going. Of course, the wild stories from the first days when cars are supposed to have ended up on railroad bridges or driven into lakes when the drivers relied on their sat-nav-system too unquestioningly have become fewer in number. But I do already have the impression that people’s sense of orientation, and ability to give directions towards a certain place is going down. So, no, I don't like them.
Nevertheless, my recent trip to the fair in Veldhoven, which I was well prepared for in that I had looked at the map, had taken notes on which cities I would be passing on the autobahn, and on which I did think I knew where I was going, has finally convinced me that having a nav-system is not that bad an idea. When you are driving by yourself, have to wear glasses that are not exactly suitable for reading, and certainly not while driving at high speed, and you don’t want to have to pull over at virtually every intersection (where there is no place to stop) resistance crumbles. And if you are trying to find your way through approximately six thousand autobahn intersections around Cologne, neither of which indicates the town you have taken down and remembered as ‘pass by on your way’, but only the final endpoints of that particularly numbered section of autobahn (which you did not take down), then even a decent sense of orientation does not get you where you want to go. At least not easily, or without considerable delay.

After Veldhoven I had decided that I would get myself a system. Next year, to put it into next year’s balance/calculations. But I did not reckon with the German train drivers. They are going on strike for four days tomorrow – and I was booked to go to Hamburg for a workshop on the weekend, by train, on Friday. Hectic arrangments resulted from this announcement: finding a keeper for my son late Thursday afternoon, when my husband has an appointment that can’t be altered, putting up the appointment for changing the car’s summer into winter tyres. And buying and installing a sat-nav-system. 

Which is currently downloading – taking forever! But I do hope I will be well prepared for my trip tomorrow. And then find my way easily in the city of Hamburg. That’s really what I need it for, because I do know how to get to Hamburg, even in my sleep!

1 comment:

  1. I do agree with you about the value of maps and the importance of having some idea of your orientation. I have resisted sat navs up until now as well but I fear that there may come a day when I have to succumb. Hope yours leads you in the right direction.