It’s no big secret that I am terrible with directions. It’s a fact. I’m never the one people call for directions, and if I am, I either pass the phone off or “Houston we have a problem!” So when TomToms, Garmins and other GPS devices came into being, I experienced a freedom I had never before known. Now I could go visit friends who lived an hour away without calling them 20 times and still ending up on the wrong side of town. It was liberating! I’d found a glitch though. If you’re like me and leave your navigation device in the car, it rarely gets to make nice with your computer to update routes and maps. And that my friends, is how you can end up like I did a few years ago, heading home from the downriver Detroit area with a TomTom telling you that you really do want to take the bridge to Canada tonight.
But that was well over two years ago, and my how technology has improved even in such a short time. Needless to say, the instant information I can glean from a smartphone web browser has become indispensable to me. Now I pull over to the side of the road and type where I want to go into Google on my iPhone and most of the time I get a map with routing directions. At the very least I can pull an address and input it into a navigation application and it will talk me through a route. One of the greatest features of web browsers these days is how quickly they can determine what instances of the query you are searching for are closest and serve the information to you. For example, “Google” your favorite restaurant. Can’t think of one? I will for you; type “Qdoba” into your Google browser. Chances are if you have Instant Google on, within the first five page suggestions you were served you’ll be presented with the Qdoba location nearest you, a map to get there, a phone number and a menu. Not too shabby if you’re in a new town and craving some Tex-Mex. That’s a fine use of some SEO on the part of many restaurants and other businesses who capitalize on the very fact that we as a society do this to find where we are going.
So now you know where you are going and you put it into your smartphone GPS. “Recalculating,” yes I missed my turn, but today’s GPS forgives my ignorance and lead foot and tells me the next fastest way to travel.
Being a transplant to the Traverse City area to join the team here at Oneupweb only a few months back, navigation at my fingertips has become my life raft. It’s amazing how necessary GPS becomes when there are just one too many one way roads in a concentrated area, but I’m learning. Recently I called a restaurant to determine their exact location and was given the directions “turn by the jeep that looks like a zebra.” Having grown up in a more densely populated area than my new town, a few months ago a direction like that would have made me laugh and ask for the exact address, but not today. I’ve gotten lost and “recalculated” too many times down that same street to not have at least an idea of where it [the striped vehicle] is. And if not, there’s always Google Earth.