I used to be good at navigating and could easily find my way around relying on a strong sense of direction. But I’ve been noticing that I’ve been getting worse at finding my way. I’m constantly lost on my bike in Amsterdam. I’ve resorted to riding a little and checking where the blue dot on the map on my phone is to locate myself.
Apparently I’m not the only one. This four-part series on wayfinding his really close to home. It’s not easy to summarize in quotes, so a few points:
- Western industrial culture is the odd one out among human cultures in not having a wayfinding tradition.
- GPS and map app directions are fundamentally changing how we orient ourselves in the world.
- Boring cityscapes are disorienting, and being constantly distracted by headphones and screens means that we don’t take in much of our surroundings.
- The way how traditional cultures practice wayfinding is diverse and fascinating.
- There’s some value is trying to be less reliant on GPS.
The blog posts heavily draw on the Maura O’Connor’s book Wayfinding, which is now on my to-read list. Until then, this lecture by O’Connor is an enjoyable listen. An almost off handed comment intrigued me: Тhe same part of the brain is responsible for wayfinding and memory. The atrophy of wayfinding abilities could have some impact on memory and emotion.