Review in the dark

Sad news,  dear readers: my modem has perished.  I lost power last night and when the lights popped back on, my modem did not rise from the dead like the rest. Repeated attempts to reboot it and an hour or so with ATT’s people and robots indicated that the aging modem had just given up. So, while I wait for the postman to bring me a replacement, I’m sans internet.   That will give me the opportunity to finish the book I’m currently reading, Walter Isaacs’ biography of Steve Jobs, but in the meantime I’ve also read a few others.   In the last week I finished two books which I haven’t reviewed yet,and I’ll use my downtime (and the lack of distractions) to give them their due.    For the moment, however, I’ll comment on Pinpoint: How GPS Is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds, which I just read via interlibrary loan.   After a history of how GPS came to be,   Greg Milner  explores its unexpected applications in fields like earthquake response, and comments on modern phenomenon like “death by GPS”,  in which people willfully hurtle themselves into dangerous situations because they trust the voice of a computer more than their common sense.  Although the book is perfectly interesting in what it covers, and well executed there,  I had expected from the title more emphasis on how our personal expectations — “our culture and our minds” —  were being remolded by the ability to locate seemingly everything  with exacting precision.  Using coordinate systems is a great change from the way humans instinctively deliver directions, but that break can be observed with a paper map:   when I travel and get a little lost,  I find few people who are willing to orient themselves even on the map I’m using.  (I insist on printing out full-page maps, not just directions, because I want to know where I am.  It comes in handy.) They insist on giving me local references instead.  Pinpoint is nice, just not as probing as I thought.   I’ve got another interlibrary loan book on the way, though: The One Device, a history of the iPhone, and perhaps a examination of how radically transformative smartphones in general have been.

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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8 Responses to Review in the dark

  1. mudpuddle says:

    cartography is a fascinating discipline… in some way it's a tragedy that there is no more “unknown” territory: mass claustrophobia might explain the craziness of the modern world… sorry about mr. modem's demise; i hope resurrection is in the cards…

  2. Marian H says:

    Sorry to hear about your modem… Pinpoint sounds pretty interesting. The other day I was driving to a new place with TWO GPS systems – my Garmin and my smartphone – and thinking how amazing and silly it was at the same time. Sometimes I print out the bird's eye map, too. XD

  3. Stephen says:

    Probably no resurrection, but I hope to have a replacement by Tuesday. Until then, its just lunch-hour on my chromebook for me…

  4. Stephen says:

    I didn't realize how accustomed I am to being'always on', internet-wise — even when I'm doing something like gaming or typing, I usually stream music/radio in the background, or pull up a browser to check something..almost like working with a window open to the world. Now the windows are closed and I'm restless!

  5. CyberKitten says:

    It is amazing how dependent we are on it. I try not to be so much but I still really miss it when its not around/easily available.

  6. Thanks for the tip on the iPhone book, I have added it to my TBR. Issacs' Jobs bio is one of my favorite books I have read in the past few years. Really well-done, I think.

  7. Stephen says:

    Same here! I finished it over the weekend and was very impressed. “The One Device” goes more into technical and business history, but I also enjoyed it. I'm back online as of tonight. 🙂

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