Friday, April 16, 2010

The Droid And Exploring Terra Incognita

I love maps. Road Maps, local maps, historical maps, world maps, political maps, geographical maps, and topographical maps. Put out a map and I will look at it. One of my favorite maps is a wall sized map at the New Bedford Whaling National Park which charts the voyages of New Bedford's whaling fleet. At my house there must be at least two dozen maps of various types as well as any number of map books and atlases. In the past week the kids have found out where Malta is, in what ocean Tristan da Cunha is, and why there are volcanoes in Iceland.

My favorite kind of map however, are those historical maps where the mapmaker is compelled to imagine what unknown lands "look" like. I have in front of me a map from the early 16th century. It fairly accurately depicts Europe, North Africa, and south western Asia...but vast regions of the of the globe are labeled Terra Incognita...or unknown land. The world must have seems mysteriously huge and fascinatingly unknown.

Since the beginning of the 16th century, and even before, we embarked on a campaign to map, chart, and record every nook, crag, and cranny of our world. The world is a lot smaller but I think it may still be unknown and this leads me to my Droid...

I have been saving my pennies and the other day I bought a Droid...its a cell phone with many features, including a web browser, email, and a GPS...Yesterday while playing with the GPS on this thing I discovered something interesting an alarming. Not only does my Droid "know" where I am "knows" where I am at where I am at.

Sitting in the car, while at my ex-wife's house, I was playing with the Droid's GPS feature. Not only did it have a map of Bridgewater, it had on its map property lines, and not only was there a flashing blue dot indicating where I indicated where I was parked on the driveway. Later on...this thing was able to trace my movements through my apartment. Big Brother is watching indeed.

Perhaps because of their accuracy, GPS' have the tendency to keep people on the beaten, well travelled track, away from terra incognita. A GPS will point me to a Dunkin Donuts in Dennis, Massachusetts...but I need to find for myself the mom and pop donut shop with the best sour cream donuts on Earth. A GPS will tell me the fastest way to get to Marshfield...but it won't tell me that the best way to go is to take the back road that runs along the pond where there are swans.

As small as the world has gotten, it is still mysterious with much that is hidden and unknown. My Droid may help me chart my journey...but its up to me to figure out where to go, what to avoid, how to find the right road, and to find where the good donuts are.

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