Getting Lost

I spent some time at the bookstore behind Toby's Estate Coffee yesterday. I was flipping through books when I came across this passage by Asher Ross in Kinfolk magazine:

James Joyce, with his usual penchant for modesty, once said that a genius is incapable of making mistakes, that "errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery".

However true this may be for art, Joyce's words have a lot to each us when it comes to navigating the physical world. The ubiquity of Google Maps and other navigation systems has significantly reduced our experience with being lost. There are obvious advantages to this change, but scientists and laypeople alike are now taking notice of the downsides. One seems certain: that we learn less about our physical world when we are guided through it passively, and we have fewer opportunities for the lucky discoveries that come from finding our own way. We are less likely than ever to happen upon the wooded byroad that gives us a more pleasant commute, or the cheerful pub that lies nestled a few miles beyond a well-known route.

Another truth of our times...