Sunday, October 25, 2009

Destination Maps

In the fall of 2007 I took a class called Envisioning the 20th- and 21st -Century American City. The first assignment consisted of designing a map of "my New York City." I was still growing accustomed to navigating this metropolis--if my knowledge of the precise order of cross streets is not perfect now, it was barely functional then--and drew up a destination-based map of my New York, ignoring directional conventions in favor of organizing locations around which subway line I took to get there. It was a fun project, reminiscent, P. Geyh mentioned in my subsequent analysis of this personal map, of medieval destination-based maps.

So it was pretty cool to find this three-year-old's view of the NYC subway. This is very similar to my project except way better designed (I remember that it took a surprisingly long time to print, cut out [with scissors], arrange, and tape [with masking tape] all the parts of my non-graphically designed map) and meant for a toddler.

But this type of destination-based map might be growing in importance. My dad always used to try to get me to pay attention to the route we were traveling in the car. I think he gave up once I got a GPS. And now, with just about everyone carrying an iPhone or a Blackberry, etc., step-by-step directions are always available. While awesome and convenient, this type of resource encourages our reliance on easily accessibly information, to the detriment of retaining knowledge. I know people who can provide driving directions from just about any point on the east coast to just about any other point on the east coast. All of these people are 50 or older. I, for one, welcome our new destination-based map overlords.


Anonymous said...

Amazing Avi!
Although, I for one lament the fact that people no longer focus on the roads taken, and only care about the destination. There is so much lost when we don't actually think about where we are!
I remember reading an article last year (either in Time or Newsweek, and yes, it was the print edition. I am one of those dinosaurs who still gets magazines in the mail, and the NYT delivered in my actual mailbox every morning) about a woman remembering fondly the road trips she used to take with her family. Yes, they had a destination in mind, but along the way they looked at the beautiful scenery, etc... Nowadays, her kids get into the car, turn on their iPods,PSPs, DSs, or whatever other digital contraption they have, and tune out of this world.

It's nice to think of oneself as not just going from point A to point B, but to actually stop along the way to appreciate where one is at any given moment.

And thus, however cool destination based maps may be- they are missing a huge part of what can be an even greater experience.

Anonymous said...

Avi said...

Thanks for the comments, Anonymouses.

I remember that Newsweek article, Anonymous II. It's a good one, and a nice connection to the post.