Driving Lessons

jdbruewer's picture

I spend a fair amount of time driving. Sometimes when driving, I think. Here are some things I've thought about recently while driving.

I have realized that, even though the middle lane on the highway is often faster, I prefer to stay on the extreme left or right. That way, I only have to worry about one side intruding on my space. The middle is more complicated. I think a lot of people are that way when it comes to politics.

I rely heavily on the Google Maps app when driving. I use it not just for directions, but traffic information and arrival time estimates.

A while back, I heard a sermon where the speaker talked about how, in the age of maps, we were engaged in our navigation and aware of our surroundings. GPS does all the work for us, leaving us less engaged in the journey. "GPS will get you there, but you won't know where you are," he said.

On top of that, many reports have suggested GPS makes us dumber by "switching off" the brain.

With that in mind, I've started switching off the GPS more often. I've found I'm more engaged with my surroundings. I've gotten lost a few times and found parts of my city I had never seen before. All that said, I feel like Luke Skywalker turning off the targeting computer every time I shut off the maps.

While I'm on the subject, I supposed it's a sign of getting older but I'm really frustrated with perfectly good apps that get "upgraded" to solve problems I never knew they had.

For example, I use Google Maps to tell me how to get somewhere and how long it's going to take. It used to be easy. Plug in the address and it gave you directions. Now when I put in an address, I get an option screen.

I have to choose directions.

Then I have to choose my starting point. Where else would it be when I'm in the car?

Then I have to choose my mode of transportation.

Then I have to wait while it tells me driving conditions.

Then it asks me how my day is going.

Then it tells me it is proud of me.

OK, I made the last two up, but you get my point. There are great options, but I wager 99 percent of the time someone uses the app, they want driving directions from their current location. Make that the default with an option to change. The key word there is "option."

Other apps have done the same, Facebook, the Weather Channel and more. I suppose they want more user engagement and a chance to sell ads, but really, they have messed up a sweet simple setup.

Don't even get me started on my voice mail user interface.

Oh, and my day is going great.