Monday, May 10, 2010

TomTom Lost

Smart as my TomTom is, I sometimes feel that something is missing in a world where, aside from the occasional off-ramp, I always find my way...Easier is not always better."

Nicholas Kulish, "Turn Off GPS. Drive Toward Serendipity," The New York Times, May 9,2010.

GPS doesn't always find the way. People get lost--maybe from the wrong inputs. I suspect a few also rebel and go off the ranch because of the authoritarian voice telling them what to do.

It's difficult to know a place without getting lost, much less reveling in serendipity. The problem is how to get lost without suffering the inevitable panic, not from the unknown necessarily, although that can happen, but because one is operating under some artificial time constraints -- a meeting, a soccer game, an event. Most people don't build in extra time for losing their way.

I have to admit, however, that some landscapes do not have a serendipity factor -- there's nothing worth getting lost for. The suburbs, of course, are a prime candidate. All the treasure one may discover through getting lost is the odd assortment of ethnic restaurants or groceries hidden away on a business strip or in a mini-mall. Maybe a diner if your're lucky.

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