tenpastmidnight blog

Making hay while the sun shines

How the internet has changed trip planning

Yesterday I drove my parents to a small village in Somerset for the retirement party of one of my Dad's friends from his national service days. We had a large, spiral bound map, which had the usual problems of trying to work through several non-consecutive pages to work out where you are and where you are going. This was the same problem we had when I was a kid, except with the change that now I'm behind the wheel and listening to the navigator instead of in the back, bored.

But now, thanks to what is available through the internet, we have lots more pieces of paper. Instructions posted to us, taken from Multimap (or it may have been Streetmap, I'm not quite sure.) We also had several maps of various detail level that I'd printed out, care of Multimap, after some Google and All the Web searches for the pub to find it's phone number and post code.

Now, not only did these help greatly in making for a smooth journey: the written instructions were spot on, even the milage was almost exactly right, and the extra maps were a handy enhancement over our bound volume; but it was all essentially free. Sure, I have to pay for my internet connection, and look at a few adverts on the websites I used, but I found some information about this little pub in the middle of no-where, got a route there, right from my house, and maps of various details to help us on our way, all for free.

Incredible.

Even more: I could have opted to take my laptop and Bluetooth adaptor and used them with my mobile phone to update our journey when we diverted a bit on the way back. And indeed published the digital photos my Mum took while we were there. All pretty much instantly.

Sometimes when you're hurrying around and just worrying about when you're going to fit in the shopping and whether the cats have got a route to the flap if they need to get out, it's difficult to remember that you're living in a science fiction future, but we are, and bits of it are fantastic.

(NB: No rampaging killer robots yet, may have to wait a while longer for those to turn up, but in the meantime does a mildly annoying noisy PC count instead?)
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