From TomTom to the NWA


Posted On: Saturday - October 23rd 2021 5:04PM MST
In Topics: 
  Cars  Curmudgeonry  Artificial Stupidity  Geography  Female Stupidity

The recent Steve Sailer post Taliban Fail to Think Globally, had Mr. Sailer's quick thoughts and lots more of the commenters', on men's vs. women's ability to navigate using a map. Most of what the discussion was about* was summed up by iSteve thusly:
I recall a mid-1990s meeting at work to create our firm’s first home page on the World Wide Web:

Woman: “To help visitors get to our office, let’s have street instructions like ‘Turn right on Lake Street then left on Clinton.'”

Man: “Let’s have a map instead.”

Woman: “Does anybody really look at maps?”

[General tumult]

Me: “You know, on the WWW, we have room for both.”
True dat, too - he "got" the web early on.

Yes, men and women have different style brains. That works for us, if we let it. That means, as usual, by ignoring the feminist BS. Yes, men are much better in general with spatial thinking. Woman aren't, and I will give the reader a couple of anecdotes shortly. It's OK, too - we can laugh at each other, but how about women just appreciate this ability in the realm of navigation, and let us do what we ARE good at.

After 25 years of GPS being affordable to all, initially in aviation, but quickly for the automobile, some would say that the skill of map reading is like the skill of blacksmithing over a century ago - no longer necessary. I don't agree.

In the aviation world, indeed GPS position information has made flying safer and enabled more efficient routes and approaches. Situation awareness has been made easy, especially after the evolution from simple position/speed information to CRT graphics to full color moving maps. The skill of pilotage, a combination of map reading and pattern recognition may be lost to most pilots, but it can always be handy for certain situations.

From a moving map...



Navigation on the roads has changed immensely too, but in a different way. Those who had a hard time using a map have it much easier, and the map reading skills of those who WERE good at it may be atrophying. It's the same story - if you navigate the old way when you don't need that GPS crutch, you keep up the skills.

There's more to it than that, though, for driving, from what I've noticed. In the aviation world it is still important to know where you are in general. For driving, with the moving map calculating the route, showing turns to be made, and now, telling you each step, you may not need to know where in the world you really are. I mean, I've seen people who have lived somewhere for years still use these things to get home. I'm sure they can remember the turns after a while, but that's not my point. Without having looked at the big picture on maps, these people really don't know where they live, in the context of the world around them.

I.e., if you've been using a map, you know "this road takes you on the north side of the lake, so you come right at this road where the first bridge is." or "This highway goes around the northwest side of town, to hook up with road southeast toward Cedar Rapids." When relying on GPS with voice instructions, you do not ever get this picture. You just blindly follow.

I know a certain boy who could be taught to read a map at 6 y/o. I missed a turn on a 200 mile road trip. I missed the one turn after we stopped for gas right at that intersection by just pulling out of the gas station oriented 90 degrees off. 20 miles down the road, after we arrived at the next town, it was obvious we were headed the wrong way. Rather than retrace, I pulled out the old road atlas, and figured out the best way toward the original route. My boy saw those roads and acted like the GPS voice, though much more pleasant, to steer me through 3 turns on the right way, from the back seat.

Meanwhile, around the same era, the boy’s Mom, having gone the simple way – with only 6 turns – to the judo place already 4 or 5 times, had run out of the monthly data plan on her phone (due to the same boy having used it for something or other, haha) and went ahead and paid $4.95 to get her app back in business to guide her to Judo. There were only 6 turns, and 3 of them are ones we take all the time.

“C'mon, Mama, it’s so simple! Whaddya’ need, refresher data? It’s all maps nowadays!”.

My wife will turn them on a few times when I have gotten lazy or it is worth using (on a long road trip at night, diverting to a certain store well off the route to get a birthday cake, for example). I am very glad we had the device. Alternatively, I would have had to print out a large scale map ahead of time, studied it good, and got my wife, no wait, my kid, to use it to guide me - it's not safe for me to try to read a map and drive at night.

However, she's a bit insistent on using the GPS as a crutch, not trusting that the skill of navigation is not lost to me. I'll get her to at least turn off the sound, if she is insistent on keeping this app going on her phone.

... to Nagging Wife App.



Now, FINALLY to the point and an explanation of the post title: Have you heard the sound from these things lately? I really believe the software developers were told by marketing to turn these apps into NWAs - that would be Nagging Wife Apps. I'm guessing only some of you Peak Stupidity readers have experienced the newest versions of these things. They will nag you and hound you. I mean, you get told 3 times coming up to a turn about making sure to keep right, it’s coming soon, etc. Both me and my boy kept going “OK, we got it!”

Maybe the audio prompts (invariably a women's voice) could throw in some additional admonishments like "You never listen to me, do you?", "You're as stubborn as your father is.", or "You did that on purpose, didn't you?" Heh! (Thanks, Mr. Anon.)

How'd these new app people do their research, family ride-alongs? From TomTom** to NWA was, IM(not so)HO, a big step in the wrong direction.

Well, finally, to wrap things up here, Peak Stupidity would be remiss in not including this great scene from our favorite old TV show The Office. As I wrote, you just blindly follow:





* The title refers to a tweet noting that some head Taliban guy doesn't know where Afghanistan is on a globe.

** A Netherlands based company that was one of the first - mid-'00s - to market these GPS based nav systems for cars.


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[UPDATED 10/27:]
Added Mr. Anon's humorous take, regarding the female instructions for the newest NWAs.
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Comments:
Moderator
Monday - October 25th 2021 3:03PM MST
PS: Mr. Blanc, oh yeah, I am pretty impressed with what all most be programmed in, or at least the huge amount of data, to get these things to work well. I'm not impressed with the people that blindly follow, however.
MBlanc46
Monday - October 25th 2021 10:35AM MST
PS I’ve had some, shall we say, odd, directions from GPS systems, but the weirdest I know of happened to some friends of ours. Alas, I don’t the details, but they were trying to get from one point in southern England to another point in southern England. The GPS had them going by way of Calais. To keep them on the motorway, perhaps? Speaking of maps, this past month, once in each direction, I wanted to transfer between I-40 and I-44 at OK City. It looked very simple on the map. I’m not at all sure that what I did was what was shown on the maps. I got it done both ways, but I never saw one of the major pieces of the route that was shown on the map. There was a marking lacuna either on the map or on the highway signage. I don’t know which. Or, perhaps I did something else entirely. No system is perfect.
Moderator
Monday - October 25th 2021 2:48AM MST
PS: Mr. Anon, that was hilarious, your 2nd comment. I will probably have to append that to this post, with the note "why didn't I think of this?!"
Moderator
Monday - October 25th 2021 2:47AM MST
PS: Mr. Hail, nah, this was purely about the geographical aspect of it all. The cultural problem is a much deeper one. Maybe they are related though.

Mr. Anon, that would indeed make a very interesting research project. It is unfortunate that ACTUALLY interesting stuff like this (to both sexes) would not have been allowed to proceed since, what 1990, 1995 at the latest? To balance it out, why not another study on how women's are much more in touch with their feelings. However, being different from each other is bad, mmkkkay?

The post was long enough, so I didn't include that anecdote on iSteve about the other end of it, the problem with asking women in particular directions (2 miles may as well be 10!) I am one who is not adverse to asking directions occasionally, As you write, the UPS guy would know a lot- actually, not for certain, as these guys follow electronics now to an even greater extent, and they are metered like crazy. That's why you see them run up to the porch, knock once, and run like hell back to the van.

However, at convenience stores now, the most likely place to stop for directions, most employees are either not intelligent enough to give directions or foreigners who also don't really know where they are, and can't speak enough English to explain directions even if they do know where they are.

I wrote an anecdote about that in "Down to the Crossroads".

https://www.peakstupidity.com/index.php?post=487

Mr. Anon
Sunday - October 24th 2021 10:29PM MST
PS

"I really believe the software developers were told by marketing to turn these apps into NWAs - that would be Nagging Wife Apps. I'm guessing only some of you Peak Stupidity readers have experienced the newest versions of these things. They will nag you and hound you. I mean, you get told 3 times coming up to a turn about making sure to keep right, it’s coming soon, etc."

Maybe the audio prompts (invariably a women's voice) could throw in some additional admonishments like "You never listen to me, do you?", "You're as stubborn as your father is.", or "You did that on purpose, didn't you?"
Mr. Anon
Sunday - October 24th 2021 10:26PM MST
PS

When going someplace unfamiliar, my wife always prints out directions; I print out maps. It would have been an interesting sociological experiment to record preferences from MapQuest and similar sites based on sex. I suspect it would have confirmed what we all suspect: that women are more likely to want directions than maps (perhaps even much more likely), and for men the opposite. That's why it has probably never been done by any researcher, curiosity and honesty being increasingly rare in academia.

Women are also always recommending that you stop and ask someone - anyone - for directions. My experience has been that "anyone" local usually has no more idea about the lay of the land than I as a stranger do. I agree that some people would be good to ask for directions - UPS drivers, cops, plumbers, electricians - anybody who spends a lot of his time driving around the place. But it's hard to flag them down.
Hail
Sunday - October 24th 2021 3:59PM MST
PS

"these people really don't know where they live, in the context of the world around them."

When you wrote this, I was sure you'd expand on the point with some social-cultural-political implications of people "now knowing where they are," and not needing to know where they are.

I mean in the context of a culture or civilization, and geographic location as a partial-metaphor for something else or at least an example of not needing to be rooted or aware of much around you, fed info and things by tech-gods out there somewhere.

This is kind of a US dilemma, and perhaps one cornerstone attitude to the 'Blue' coalition in the USA as it exists today.
The Alarmist
Sunday - October 24th 2021 10:21AM MST
PS

She can do a VOR circling approch, which is good enough. I did teach her how to shoot the local big-airport ILS in case I have the big one while in the air.

My GPS’ female voice in American English sounds like a bossy Karen, so I stick with the Breathy (almost sexy) English-accented English lady.
Moderator
Sunday - October 24th 2021 8:02AM MST
PS: Thanks for your similar anecdote, Alarmist. Now we have REAL DATA. ;-}

As for the aviation charts, the en route charts are more like graphs than anything. Does she understand the VOR radials and that? OK, let me get really serious, can she do an NDB approach... partial panel?
The Alarmist
Sunday - October 24th 2021 6:17AM MST
PS

My wife uses her GPS obsessively, even when visiting her parens in the house in which she lived for twenty years, which is I house I could now drive to practically blindfolded. It’s funny when we get stuck in a traffic jam, a case where GPSs are sometimes less than useless for getting around, when I pull out the road atlas and ask her to find the alternate route that everyone else with a GPS is NOT using.

Funny thing is, she can read aviation charts just fine. IFR charts, the most abstract, are easiest for her. Go figure.
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