- 25 October 2016
Finished reading Pinpoint: How GPS is Changing Technology, Culture, and our Minds by Greg Milner.
I wanted to read this because of his oft-quoted chapter Death by GPS which speaks about the way it may be altering human cognition and even rearranging the grey matter in our heads. We’re using technology to TELL us where to go, but have no real concept of HOW to get somewhere, or any awareness of what (and who) is around us.
I also learned about the history of GPS (Global Positioning System) - it was original used for bomb guidance - and how we’ve allowed it to saturate the worlds’s systems so thoroughly and so fast that now we’re only realising the consequences of this.
GPS is used for pretty much everything: landing planes, mobile/cell phone calls, predicting weather and earthquakes, locating oil, growing food, and regulating global finance; and without it the Internet could not exist. But an accidental or malicious timing flaw could bring down electrical grids, hijack drones, halt the world financial system, plus all the use and misuse of GPS data by governments and corporations that raise questions about ethics and privacy.
Here’s some quotes:
Using GPS can lead to a sense of disengagement, because the question of location, which once required a close interaction with the world, is now solved by unseen technologies far removed from the user.
In our society, total disengagement is often an option. We have come to depend on GPS, a technology that, in theory, makes it impossible to get lost. Not only are we still getting lost, we may actually be losing a part of ourselves.
GPS tracking, which could not exist without a separate communications infrastructure, is another reminder that GPS itself is a blank state onto which we project our desires. And what we desire most from it is perfect knowledge of other people’s location and behaviour.
GPS gives us the illusion of infallibility… The data appears solid, but it is only solid in relation to something else… GPS coordinates do not mean much to use without a map on which to peg them.
Oh, and, so you know, I love physical maps.