Pinpoint: How GPS is Changing Our World
Over the last fifty years, humanity has developed an extraordinary global utility which is omnipresent, universal, and available to all. Neither the internet nor the cloud would work without the Global Positioning System (GPS), a network of 30 satellites and their monitoring stations on Earth, which makes everything from the smartphone in your pocket to precision planting of crops, to the Mars rover possible. Pinpoint tells the remarkable story of GPS, from its conceptual origins as a bomb guidance system and its classified status to its present ubiquity and one of the most important technologies in the world. It examines the different ways that humans understand physical space, from ancient Polynesian navigation, to Western navigational methods to the new frontiers revealed by GPS. A strange and unexpected legacy of satellite technology is its double-edged effect on our culture: while GPS has brought us breathtakingly accurate methods of timekeeping, navigation, and earthquake tracking, our overwhelming reliance on it is affecting our cognitive maps, leading to the increasingly common phenomenon 'Death by GPS', in which drivers blindly follow their devices into deserts, lakes, and impassable mountains. Deeply researched, inventive and with fascinating insights into the way we think about our place in the world, Pinpoint reveals the way the technologies we design to help us can end up shaping our lives. It is at once a grand history of science and a far-reaching book about contemporary culture.
A big-think book which tells the riveting story of GPS (Global Positioning System) and how it is affecting our brains, our technology, and our culture, in the tradition of James Gleick and Nicholas Carr
GREG MILNER is the author of Perfecting Sound Forever, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. A former editor at Spin, his writing has also appeared in Slate, the Village Voice, Wired, Salon, New York, Blender, Rolling Stone, the Word, the Sunday Times, and the Journal of Technology in Human Services. He lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York.