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#281213 - 06/26/16 01:31 PM Death by GPS: are satnavs changing our brains?
Doug_Ritter Online   happy

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Registered: 01/28/01
Posts: 2018
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#281214 - 06/26/16 03:39 PM Re: Death by GPS: are satnavs changing our brains? [Re: Doug_Ritter]
M_a_x Online   happy
Old Hand

Registered: 08/16/02
Posts: 1064
Loc: Germany
I do not think that satnavs change our brains.
The satnavs just become more common and more powerful. They can store map details that were not available when those things first hit the market. Additionally people have more trust in computers and software (I am a software engineer, so I donīt). That leads to a situation where more people get the chance to get in trouble by using stanavs. There may also be a survivor bias. We wont hear much about those people who realized on time that the satnav may have plotted a route that is less desireable. Most humans tend to follow the directions of a perceived authority. That would explain the peopleīs willingness to just follow the satnav.
When I bought my last satnav, I spent some time to configure it to not use dirt roads I would not consider fit to use. I realized that the default configuration would use such roads only after the device tried to plot a route I could not follow through (I knew that, so no damage done). The satnav tried get me back on that dirty road for quite a bit of distance and suggested U-turns on every opportunity. Before that I was not aware that the device would do that.
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#281215 - 06/26/16 03:59 PM Re: Death by GPS: are satnavs changing our brains? [Re: M_a_x]
Russ Offline
Geezer

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5296
Loc: SOCAL
In addition to selecting road preferences, some GPS receivers allow you to choose between shortest distance or shortest time. The short-cut over back roads (as the crow flies so to speak) may be picturesque, but may also take longer than a very boring drive sticking with interstate highways. When it comes to road trips I stick with highways and backroads I personally know. FWIW

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#281216 - 06/26/16 04:37 PM Re: Death by GPS: are satnavs changing our brains? [Re: Russ]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3309
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Russ
When it comes to road trips I stick with highways and backroads I personally know.


When a backroad route I'm not familiar with presents itself, I strive to assess the totality of the circumstances. That includes weather, road conditions that I can see or find out about, the vehicle I'm in and it's condition, how likely I am to be able to communicate if assistance is needed, the likely time it would take for assistance to reach us, and fuel state. Road conditions in particular need to be reassessed continuously, never going further than you can safely turn around and never being embarrassed to say, "Nope, this looked good before and now it doesn't. We're going around the long way."

In daylight with good weather, the right vehicle and other conditions I'm willing to be cautiously adventurous. Darkness, bad weather, the wrong vehicle and so on will cause me to make different choices.

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#281217 - 06/26/16 05:40 PM Re: Death by GPS: are satnavs changing our brains? [Re: Russ]
haertig Online   content
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 03/13/05
Posts: 2137
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: Russ
When it comes to road trips I stick with highways and backroads I personally know.

My backroads are usually paved. No pavement? I think hard about it, unless I'm familiar with the area. At the very least I'd have good maps, which might well be topo maps, but I wouldn't venture down an unknown dirt road in the middle of nowhere without them. GPS is NOT a substitute. It's an adjunct, for convenience only.

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#281218 - 06/26/16 07:01 PM Re: Death by GPS: are satnavs changing our brains? [Re: Doug_Ritter]
AKSAR Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/31/11
Posts: 1161
Loc: Alaska
I suspect the article is correct in that heavy use of GPS can degrade many people's ability to find their way without the technology. Route finding is a skill, and like any skill it takes practice.

While the GPS chip can locate itself with incredible precision, the turn by turn directions rely on a database of streets and roads, and the software to link the GPS position to those roads. Those databases come from a wide variety of sources, and from time to time there will be errors. The database may be wrong to begin with. Even if initially correct, roads are rerouted, and new roads are built.

I most often use GPS when navigating in unfamiliar urban areas. Even in those cases I usually have some sort of printed map to get an overview of the route. Just having a general idea of where you are trying to go will help you realize when something isn't right.

Personally, I rather enjoy exploring obscure roads out in the boondocks. Most of the time, I am using whatever printed maps I have available, rather than a GPS. I have managed to get thoroughly lost and/or stuck a few times. Years ago in Colorado we once got way further down a 4WD trail than we had any business going in a 2WD pickup. It required some serious ingenuity with a shovel and jack, and some artful driving in reverse to get us out of there. A good Type 2 Fun adventure! As chaosmagnet notes up thread the key thing is using some situational awareness and common sense to know when things are getting too adventurous, and to turn back while you still can. (And carry a shovel!)

And always remember that without common sense, even printed maps can get you into serious trouble. The Kim family, who got tragically lost in the Klamath Mountains of SW Oregon in 2006, were using an official Oregon State Road Map. They were not the first people to come to grief trying to travel Bear Camp Road.


Edited by AKSAR (06/26/16 07:04 PM)
Edit Reason: correction
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#281219 - 06/26/16 07:15 PM Re: Death by GPS: are satnavs changing our brains? [Re: Doug_Ritter]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3309
Loc: USA
It didn't occur to me to mention a shovel. Its the first thing I put in a car when I buy one. I carry a short handled spade and a square bladed aluminum snow shovel. I tried out a plastic-bladed telescoping-handled shovel for the car and demoted it to small child "helping" duty.


Edited by chaosmagnet (06/26/16 09:55 PM)
Edit Reason: typo

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#281220 - 06/26/16 11:31 PM Re: Death by GPS: are satnavs changing our brains? [Re: AKSAR]
Russ Offline
Geezer

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5296
Loc: SOCAL
There's a difference between a road trip and exploring. A road trip's mission is to get from Pt A to Pt B with as little adventure as possible. With exploring an adventure and finding new things is the mission. So many people mix the two and their little adventure results in not reaching Pt B -- a massive search effort ensues.

My road trips are usually very long days (600+ highway miles). Okay, in my younger and more bulletproof days I would double that. The area between gas stations is just a blur. I mostly use the GPS to calculate ETA's and sometimes traffic detours, I'll know the primary roads/route from either memory or Rand & McNally prior to starting the trip.

Shovel, chains, cables et al stay in the truck. The battery is changed on time rather that after it fails.

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#281222 - 06/27/16 07:38 PM Re: Death by GPS: are satnavs changing our brains? [Re: Doug_Ritter]
gonewiththewind Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1517
It is simple behavior modification, you stop using a skill and you begin to lose, becoming more and more dependent on the technology. It does actually change your brain over time. The exercise of using your brain on the navigation skills, along with memory and being more aware as you travel, keeps the brain healthier and more able to learn. Dependency on such things as GPS (as useful as they may be) means you do become less able to learn over time.

Morals to the story, exercise your brain, and skills trump equipment every time.

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