Sunday, October 5, 2008

Is technology making the city more boring to discover?

From the Times today:

The only way to learn the city is to get lost a few times, people tell you. Learning your way around a space happens negatively. It is when you take a wrong turn that you really begin interacting with the world around you. You discover the city when you stumble.

Cellphone tracking services like Loopt and Buddy Beacon are increasingly popular, making us all more “connected” with the hundred “friends” in our digital phonebook.

This network of satellites and screens quickly becomes part of our sensory apparatus, replacing eyes, ears, nose and feet, as if these devices are natural extensions of our bodies. We tell ourselves that they will maximize efficiency and minimize the unknown. There’s no time to get lost.

In the back seat of a newly equipped taxi, we watch the two-dimensional map as the three-dimensional world zooms by outside: “Wow! Look at this wonderful touch screen! I can see exactly where I’m at and where I want to go! Latest updates on sports and real estate included!”

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