A little over a year ago, we bought a new family car (minivan, really, but we’re still in denial =) which includes a navigation system. It’s pretty spiffy, but it’s led me to discover two things:

1. Technology is Dumb
I use the nav system when I’m heading somewhere I don’t already know how to find. Since I’m usually starting from home and since I know the surrounding area pretty well, there’s a good chunk of the route I already know. With only five ways off this island, the nav system gets it about half right by knowing that two of them are fairly unavoidable and trying to fit all routes through those two. Of course, I ignore it when I know better; I wish it would notice my strong preference as expressed by my choice of routes.

2. Technology Makes You Dumb
Used to be that I’d spend a fair bit of time figuring out how to get from A to B when I hadn’t been to B before; at the very least, I’d scribble down the address and phone number, then pull out the Thomas Guide and work it out. That involved noticing which intersections I’d have to pass, which ones would mean I’d gone too far, and all of that. I’d learn just a bit more about the area. Not so any longer.

The phone numbers in your speed dial; your pocket calculator … those dumb devices are making you dumber.

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14 June 2007


technology thinking