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xkcd: I Don't Want Directions - The online computery journal thingy of a turtle

Aug. 23rd, 2010

01:25 am - xkcd: I Don't Want Directions

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http://www.xkcd.com/783/
I can totally relate to today's xkcd! I don't have a GPS, but I do use Google Maps. I just want to plug the address in and let it show me the route. And even if someone I want to visit insists that the map is inadequate because they want to give me their preferred shortcut or whatever, I still need something visual to go by.

When I visited Toronto recently, Babs tried to give me directions to her apartment over the phone. Even though she insisted "It's perfectly simple", I wouldn't let her until I took out my map, unfolded it and looked at it. Because it is NOT "perfectly simple" until I can see what I'm dealing with. Otherwise, directions are a meaningless jumble of lefts and rights and names of streets I don't know. Turn left on Blabla, right on Blibbety, left on Flobadob... if I forget one of the blibs or blabs, I'm lost!

(Not to disparage Babs or anything; it's just how I operate. At least she didn't say at any point, "You can't miss it," because that's the other biggest lie told by people giving directions.) :}

One time I was in Minneapolis, and my uncle Dave wanted to give me directions to his daughter's deli so I could meet him there for lunch the next day. I took out my map, but he said, "No, no, put that away; I'll tell you how to get there." I refused and looked at the map anyway, and I'm glad I did. (Well, I would have been glad if I hadn't gotten lost *anyway* because of poor street signage. Still, he could have *warned* me about that...)

Also, looking at a map provides for error correction:
"Turn left onto Main. Then turn right onto Smithfield."
"I don't see a Smithfield... oh wait, there it is. But it's parallel with Main!"
"Oops, I meant Sherwood. I was thinking of the pizza place on Sherwood & Smithfield and got mixed up..."
If I'm not looking at a map, I end up looking in vain for Smithfield and getting lost!

Comments:

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From:nefaria
Date:August 23rd, 2010 01:20 pm (UTC)
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Garmins etc. do have their limitations. I was using one on my first trip to downtown Pittsburgh, there was a turn then another turn about 500 feet after. I was driving about 30MPH and the GPS didn't mention the second turn until it was too late to make it; I ended up about 2 miles out of town before I could find a place to turn around.

I usually plan my route on Google Maps and let the Garmin guide me, usually their routes are about the same. And I keep a map of the locale in the glove compartment in case there's a closed road or some other blockade that makes the Garmin useless.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:August 23rd, 2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
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Of course, a good GPS should know what streets are closed. Google Maps does (at least sometimes)!
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:August 23rd, 2010 11:35 pm (UTC)
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Still, I'm sure you explain that to your visitors, right?
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:October 25th, 2010 11:49 pm (UTC)

Two months later, the turtle replies...

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Well, the impression I get from the strip is that the guy Randall is talking to is not trying to explain anything; he's just mindlessly reciting directions and ignoring Randall's comments.
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From:deckardcanine
Date:August 23rd, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC)
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Giving directions is one thing. Not telling the address after several requests is inexcusable. 'Smatter, don't remember it? (I could almost believe they'd forget it in an era of declining snail mail, but surely they use Amazon and/or eBay sometimes.)
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From:pippinbear
Date:August 23rd, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
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Definitely. I'd want to first look at a map and see roughly where I'm going, but *then* I'll be happy for them to give their preferred directions. I have a Google Maps "My map" link I give to people coming to our house, which shows the two usual routes in from outside London, one of which is more direct than the other but unsuitable for wider vehicles. But giving them a map link means they can see where the destination is immediately, and can digest the information in whatever order they prefer.

Local people often know good routes, but how is anyone else supposed to get to know the place if they don't find their own way (assisted by maps and/or navigation systems)?

Actually, I just remembered a time when I got rather upset at a friend who was trying to help me with the menu posted on the wall in a food place of a type I was unfamiliar with. I think I almost shouted at him that I just wanted a few moments to *read* the board on my own, without him trying to explain anything. Poor him - I was a rather bad guest on that trip. :/
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From:doodlesthegreat
Date:August 23rd, 2010 04:10 pm (UTC)
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I use Rand McNally, m'self. I can get more effective step-by-step directions that way, and can use it to relate to their mapbook series. But yes, I always get an address. AND a contact number in case of still getting lost.
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From:thecanuckguy
Date:August 24th, 2010 02:15 am (UTC)
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I'm a techno-geek and cartophile myself, so I love my GPS (my dad gave me his old one on Father's Day when he got a new one), yes I like to have an address for these things, but I also realize there is some times when you do need directions - for example my wife's nephew lives way out in the boonies outside of a city, his mailing address is a PO Box - we've got directions before but even they were highly confusing (even using satellite view of Google Maps).

My favourite hobby is screwing with the GPS, I like looking at new houses, so I would drive out to a brand new subdivision that's newer than the map version currently loaded in the Garmin and watch its head explode when we start to drive on roads that don't exist!
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From:babsbunny
Date:October 25th, 2010 11:06 pm (UTC)
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Nonono, you were supposed to turn RIGHT on Flobadob! No wonder you got lost!
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:October 26th, 2010 04:59 am (UTC)
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You told me LEFT! I INDISTINCTLY remember you saying left!
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