When I was young, my family had a motor home and our vacations were spent on the roads. Our courses were always plotted in advance and we would have a nightly destination. I remember how much I loved to sit in the passenger seat as we travelled down the highways and watch our progress on a map.
My grandfather, who travelled with us often, was an Air Force navigator in World War II and he taught me how to read maps at an early age. From him, I learned how to estimate arrival times by multiplying distance by rate of speed. I always knew how far it was until the next exit and I was usually the only one that could re-fold a map.
Today's travelers, generally, don't read maps. Personal electronics have quickly made them obsolete. Global Positioning Systems (GPS) tell drivers where to turn and how far to drive before changing directions. Even the built-in compass feature found in many cars and trucks has become obsolete. A Smartphone will speak driving directions in response to voice-recognition commands. Map-reading and navigation skills are quickly becoming unnecessary.
So are maps. The creation and use of maps has, historically, been essential to help people define, explain and navigate their way through the world. Crude maps scratched on the walls of caves have evolved into satellite images on the internet. While children of one generation ago may have needed to learn to read maps in order to travel, today's youngsters only need to learn how to use their computers or cell phones. Those who, in the past, needed to learn to read a map now only need to know where to "click".
I still always know how far it is until the next exit and I'm usually the only one that can re-fold a map. But I can't get my cell phone to recognize my voice.
Copyright © 2012 www.DiatribesAndOvations.com