[FoRK] Paper vs Digital maps -- tip of an iceberg?

Dave Kammeyer kammeyer at kammeyer.org
Mon May 31 22:26:28 PDT 2010


On Mon, May 31, 2010 at 1:04 PM, Bill Kearney <wkearney99 at hotmail.com> wrote:
> But that's true with anything.  Yet another way too go about something
> doesn't make it better.  A new thing often introduces new ways of
> approaching things that wouldn't have been as practical beforehand.  But
> that doesn't automatically make prior methods invalid.  Nor does the greater
> concentration of information automatically lead to better decision making.

The new ways of using the data are really the big differences.  If you
just put a bunch of maps/charts on an ipad with no GPS or other
intelligence, paper is a lot easier to argue for.  Paper has very high
resolution, is extremely reliable, and has very little learning curve,
configuration, or UI friction.  The real win for electronic is in
domain specific software that aids in, or replaces human decision
making.  Your car GPS is not just a map.  It plans your route and
guides you there.  Now you probably don't trust a computer program
enough to plan a route on the water for you, because the decisions are
complex and require judgment, and a wrong decision can have big
consequences. In a car though, for most trips that I used to whip out
a map for, I nearly blindly trust the GPS.  If something goes wrong, I
can always pull over.

You can also use an electronic map to easily do things that are
difficult with a paper map.  If you ever do any driving in Europe,
road signs are often nonexistent, too small to read from a car, or in
a foreign alphabet.  Hearing the GPS tell me to "Turn left in 200
meters" is huge in a city like Istanbul where there are very few
legible signs, and it's all you can do to keep the other motorists
from smashing into you.

-Dave



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