02 December 2006
Plug in electronics. Disengage brain
Mark Holland

Yes, I realise I can be quite Amish about a lot of the “life changing must have gizmos” that “with it” people rave about. But really, Sat Nav?

What’s with all these plonkers just following its orders and blindly going along narrow tracks across the North Yorkshire Moors, through deep fords in Wiltshire or, really taking the biscuit, driving to Manchester instead of Brentwood?

London Ambulance Service was at a loss yesterday to explain why the crew had not noticed their journey was taking somewhat longer than expected or how they had managed to miss subtle indicators that it was going awry — such as Birmingham.

And just yesterday, not quite as importantly perhaps, a Four Tops tribute band would up in Chelmsford rather than Cheltenham.

Is it that these people were unable to read maps and road signs in the first place? Or has the electronic führer embedded in the dashboard turned them into zombies?

Just as our ability to remember phone numbers has gone out the window since the phones acquired the ability to remember them, in time nobody will know the way to anywhere. Not Amarillo, not San Jose, not even Scunthorpe.

Finally, if a Sat Nav manufacturer really wanted to add a human touch to its directions it should direct you via pubs. People do that sometimes don’t they? Left at the Fat Ox, on past the Kings Head…

  1. “Or has the electronic führer embedded in the dashboard turned them into zombies?”

    Isn’t that what führer’s are supposed to do?  Next week: I typed in Neasden and ended up in Nuremburg.

    Posted by Patrick Crozier on  02 December 2006 at 03:32 pm

  2. LOL

    Können wir zu Wilhelmshaven bitte fahren? -> Links, Rechts, Links, Rechts - > Gott on Himmel! Wir sind in Warsaw?

    Posted by Mark Holland on  02 December 2006 at 03:54 pm

  3. I adore sat nav - it’s a dream come true. I wouldn’t drive in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or through France without it. I’ve ended up in too many ghettoes in places like Detroit and Chicago, at 3AM (and as a teenager, usually driving hundreds of miles away from home while my parents thought I was having a slumber party with friends) to go all technophobe now. Idiots will be idiots no matter how much technology they have at their disposal.

    Posted by Jackie Danicki on  03 December 2006 at 06:16 pm

  4. Although I don’t actually ‘adore’ SatNav, I do find it very useful if used INTELLIGENTLY. Very few devices are completely idiot-proof and nor, really, should they be, provided the instructions for use are written from the perspective of a newcomer, not someone who is already an expert. My SatNav is reasonably good and I expect it to be extremely useful for a longish trip down thru Europe mid-January next.

    Posted by Bill (Scotland) on  04 December 2006 at 06:43 pm

  5. Mark Holland, your jokes are worse than your German!

    Whilst sat-navs are undoubtedly of more use than a girlfriend in the passenger seat who points out of the left hand window and screams, ‘That way!’ only to explain 500 yards later that she was ‘quite obviously’ pointing at a signpost which said ‘turn right’ I still find the ambulance crew story hard to believe; Yes, yes, I know that geography teaching isn’t what it once was, but in my mind’s eye I have a picture of an ambulance crew speeding past, oh, I dunno, Watford, arguing that ‘procedure’ says they have to follow the sat-nav in all cases. Add in maybe a little ‘I’m in charge here’ followed by two blokes refusing to concede a point sitting in stoney silence, driving up the M6 to Brentwood.

    Posted by Neil @ IAF on  05 December 2006 at 06:00 am

  6. I was vaguely sceptical of SatNav systems, but it only took me one driving trip using one to make me a complete convert. They are amazingly useful. And they do change the way you drive - without one you have to have an image of where you are in your head, whereas with one you can just enter a zen-like state and follow instructions.

    None the less I would hop that there is a point where you take stock and realise it has led you astray. Of course, when you do this you are probably a hundred miles off course and haven’t brought a map….

    Posted by Michael Jennings on  09 December 2006 at 04:02 pm

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