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Marveling at technology. Posted on 10/06/2002.

In his latest email newsletter, Clay Shirky includes this:

* Quote of Note: Marcel Proust, Telecom Analyst ======================

Proust, describing how formerly magical human affairs become
depressingly normal, used the telephone as an example, calling it

"...a supernatural instrument before whose miracles we used to stand
amazed, and which we now employ without giving it a thought, to
summon our tailor or order an ice cream. "

This lament over our lost sense of wonder was written 30 years after
the invention of the telephone. Drawing parallels with current
technology is left as an excercise for the reader.

Which is funny, because just today I was sitting at my computer, marveling at websites that make maps. In particular, MapQuest, which has been facilitating my hunt for a house. I can make maps with up to 5 locations identified (though I wish it could be more!).

And don't even get me started with driving directions.

I mean, I don't know anyone whose experiences with maps haven't wholly changed thanks to the internet. And the ease with which we've integrated internet maps in our lives definitely leaves folks like me (whose job is to design products that support what people want to accomplish) with a lot to think about.

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I completely agree with you about mapping sites. When I moved to Seattle two years ago, it occurred to me then to wonder how people ever moved to a new place without the Internet and especially MapQuest (or, my current favorite for directions, MapBlast). When I made my move, I used the Internet for everything: picking a moving company, finding an apartment within a tolerable commuting distance from the office (and making sure it wouldn't totally suck if my new employer carried through on its threat to move, which as it happens they did), making sure I could get DSL there, checking the crime statistics for that neighborhood, picking a bank, and printing up a dozen maps of not just my route from Detroit to Seattle but also from my new home to the office and to the nearest bank branch, grocery store, mall, post office, Department of Licensing, and so on.
Posted by Jerry Kindall @ 10/08/2002 04:20 PM PST [link to this comment]

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