punchy line

...and he (Simon Peter) saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth ... not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. - Jn 20: 6-7
-Jn 20: 6-7

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

In Praise of Google Maps

I remember road navigation pre-satellite power. Most distinctly I recall hastily folded and refolded maps stuffed-until-stuck in the side pockets of the driver and passenger side doors until our journeys warranted their use.  We had maps for nearly every state in the west and southwest from our own California to Texas.  And that was only the state maps.

My parents also kept detailed city maps for several of our favorite haunts and a thick wire-bound US atlas that lived under a chair (mostly because it did not fit in the door or glove box). It was commonplace to stop at gas stops and convenience stores to buy the local map. I admit I loved finding our location on paper maps back then. And I still enjoy 'seeing' where exactly I'm at - only now the map I look at happens to be on my phone and consist of a pulsating blue dot that moves wherever I move.

Say what you will about how Google maps has misdirected you at times, I personally believe that it has added to life immensely, to our ease of navigation now on family vacations or wherever we are. The usual stress over pondering where the next gas station is or whether we are going to run into traffic is gone. And, of course, Google map's greatest attribute is that it does get you where you need to go the majority of the time.

So far, for my husband and I, our family car has never known a paper map... Not that I dislike them, but do you remember the angst involved in trying to refold those things correctly? It always took careful crease analysis and and a few attempts to get it right!

Gone now are the days when one needed to drive around to find a place to eat: now just type in "food" and a dozen red pins drop near your blinking blue dot location.

Gone also is wondering "how long until" we get there. So now when the kids ask "Are we there yet?" You can simply pass them the phone or point to the GPS and wittily retort,"Ask the map."

I also can't emphasize enough just how much it has enriched my whole domestic life being able to type something as basic as "store" and "Starbucks" (c'mon, it's basic, right?) and have all of my options come up wherever I am. It has literally saved us while on vacation or in unfamiliar locations. 

For us, Google maps is a lifesaver ... with a lot less folding involved. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for teaching children navigation but the first map our little ones may behold these days may just be digital and that's okay with me! But the moment they start saying things to a paper map like "school" or "home" or "Starbucks," then we'll have to talk.

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