In my opinion, one of the greatest innovations of the past five years is how location has become a part of everyday life. Google Maps or its equivalent has become a standard tool in many people’s life. When you’re looking for directions, a place, etc. you simply call it up; no more guessing where you are.
We’ve come a long way in the past five years, but a couple of recent experiences reminded me of just how far there still is to go.
First one: I can walk from NYC to Ottawa in 5 days.
As Wen and I were going home for Christmas, I decided to see what the directions would look like ‘by foot’. I was impressed that it would only take about five and half days to do that. That’s about 72 miles a day.
You get a great sense of how Google’s algorithms work here. The average human can walk about 3 miles per hour. There are 24 hours in a day. Ergo, 72 miles per day and 5.5 days to Ottawa.
My second moment came when I stumbled upon this nameless street when trying to find a cafe:
Of course, this street does have a name (Greenwich). And this example speaks more to the power than limitation of online mapping tools: they’ve become such a part of my life that a part of me almost questions why the street has no name, rather than thinking there’s something wrong with the program.