Reflections on map tech

June 27, 2014

Today as I was updating one of my safe cloud backups from before my 2011 travels—  when I had a huge hard drive and everything was on it —  I came upon a folder called Travel. In it were PDFs of MapQuest maps, a couple of bus routes,  etc.

I remember making those PDFs 10+ years earlier. I’d added my own text to the map image and was quite impressed by how great the technology was and how easy it was to simply email that map to anyone, anytime rather than phoning them and making them write down turn-by-turn instructions and landmarks.

They’re gone now; deleted. We don’t use those things anymore, now that the iPhone came along and ushered the era of the smartphone with built-in GPS.

Need a map now? Use Apple or Google maps, and in case you’ll be off-line, capture a screen shot of that route or place.

The detailed written directions I once gave to people to get to my apartment or my parent’s house? Now you give the address and they map it. All you need to say is watch out for this parking restriction or stop at this guard gate, or enter at such-and-such a door.

Need a bus route? That’s online too. Google maps even figures out the buses for you and shows you on the map. And shows you where you are along the route as your map progresses so you know when to be ready to move toward the door!

Times change.
And change again.

Do I need to justify this as a travel with tech post? OK, just in case you feel I do…
I’ve noticed a few folks still travel with a Lonely Planet guide or such. I used to travel with them in the ’80, tearing out chapters when I didn’t need them anymore to save weight. Giving those chapters to other travelers. I confess that on this trip one time, I used my iPhone to take photos of a few things mentioned in them. In the ’80s I’d have written that down in my paper diary.  I’ve also purchased some chapters of their books to give as gifts to hosts/future-travelers. But most often, if I need to check out some facts, I turn to Duck Duck Go search on my iPhone — and screenshot the helpful info.

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