the demise of printed maps

While in Dallas during the past week, I got to hang out with Todd Rhoades of (no ‘s’ on the end) and also Leadership Network colleague. Even though it was only 2 miles from the hotel to headquarters, Todd put his handy-dandy GPS to use. (On the 2nd day of carpooling, we even drove blind, without the GPS, but that’s not the point of this vignette.)

And on the way home from the airport, the taxi driver asks for for a building number before we start rolling. I’m befuddled, saying I’m going home, not to a building. With an elbow and stare from my wifey companion, it dawns on me he’s asking for my street address. (I was groggy from a 4am wake up to catch the flight home) He punches it into his GPS, and we get on our way.

My Aha moment as I awake from my extended nightly slumber: the demise of printed maps. Just as wikipedia has brought in the demise of the encyclopedia, as GPS’s get more popular, cheaper, and built-in to more cars, sales of Thomas Guides, Mapsco, McNally Street Guides, ADC Map books, and road atlases will plummet. Even AAA TripTiks will lose its appeal. A little bit of overstating the obvious, but I’d experienced GPS in action twice this week. No, I probably won’t be getting a GPS for myself, preferring to enjoy the journey, rather than being ultra-efficient on getting to a destination.

And, men don’t have to stop to ask for directions ever again. Not that they did in the first place, but now it’s because they’re not lost. 🙂

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  1. Jon says:

    Digitalization is really changing the way information is distributed. Offices can now scan important documents rather than copying them. Individuals can listen to mp3’s without purchasing CD’s. People can also watch videos online. What role will TV’s and DVD’s play in 5 years? It’ll be interesting.

  2. Joe Suh says:

    Jon, some thoughts on TV in 5 years (from a much smarter person than me):

  3. L.L. Barkat says:

    I know a few people who still seem to get hopelessly lost, even with their GPS. Some just aren’t good at directions, no matter how those directions arrive! 🙂

  4. gar says:

    I think digital maps are definitely superior to the printed versions… imagine the convenience it’d be if every car on the road was wired with a digital map display that was constantly updated via some sort of wireless or satellite feed. In relation to recent news, the whole James Kim tragedy also hits home the importance of having a good map on a road trip… a bad map and a wrong turn can have horrible results.

  5. Imei says:

    GPS is not really helpful in navigating the subtle country roads of the human heart, mind, and anatomy. Some examples:

    1. Did she mean scarlett, rouge, brick, sienna, cherry, blood, or rose when she said, “Could you buy me a red scarf?”

    2. Where in the heck is that place they call the pelvic floor?

    3. Where, exactly, was I smirking?

    4. Did I just miss something, or was I NOT supposed to take the last scoop of chocolate chip mint ice cream?

    5. In which room did you say I could go when I am singing 80’s tunes from my high school reunion?



  6. djchuang says:

    Imei, Well, neither GPS nor printed maps are of any help navigating the human heart and soul. We need a real-live tour guide for that — are you offering to help? 🙂 And you can have all the chocolate chip mint ice cream in the world, none for me, thank you.

    Gar, yes, sad story about James Kim. Now, there are some GPSes that come with live traffic updates, and someone was telling me that when they were about to be stuck in traffic, their GPS gave them an alternate routing so they were able to avoid the traffic incident. That’s a very nice bonus!