Jul 9, 2009
This “article” on the BBC Magazine site wrings its hands and cries:
Sat-nav clearly suits an era which has given up on understanding the roads as a coherent, logical system – an era in which map-reading may be going the way of obsolete skills like calligraphy and roof-thatching.
I honestly wish I knew more about how the editorial process in the mainstream media works. I can’t fathom the genesis of this story and I can’t understand the fear-mongering behind it or why its acceptable to crank out a fluff-piece that does nothing but weep about the loss of our humanity (which isn’t happening, in case you were wondering). And yes, I am aware that this is quite a common pattern, particularly on slow news days.
But seriously: I can read a bloody map and use a compass and I have to say, driving in some rural England’s back-roads both tools would have done nothing for me. The sat-nav saved me a lot of time and backtracking, particularly when you’re in an area where road signage is optionally accurate, if also even optional.
This piece is quite incredible, though. It pushes so many buttons you’d think the authors keyboard only had 1 key (labelled STUPID). Here’s another gem:
Men in particular seem to recoil from being given digital instructions, and read the satnav woman’s pregnant pauses, or her curt phrases like “make a legal U-turn” and “recalculating the route”, as stubborn or bossy. Of course, they are reading too much into it. Sat-nav is just a dumb computer, obeying its algorithms.
Yeah, let’s play that gender-role card. I do like the sly reference to robotic women, though.
Look, anybody who takes offence at a machine generated voice or gets lost on their own neighbourhood’s streets need to take a closer look at themselves. As one Slashdot commenter wryly said it’s “akin to asking if real men don’t use hammers. I wouldn’t use one to open an egg, but I would use one to fix my stairs.” Yes, sat-nav is a tool. If you don’t know how to use tools, don’t take them out of the box. That is all.