Every so often I run across a very elegant piece of hardware. That is a device that is well designed, works easily, and just changes how I do things because it seems so natural (“why didn’t I have this before”). In this category I put the iPod, TiVO, Archos Portable Video Recorder and now, the TomTom Navigator.
This little GPS device works seamlessly with my Treo (palm based cell phone). You turn it on (it has one button and one light that tells you everything you need to know), it connects to the Treo using Bluetooth (no wires) and not only shows you a route to your destination, but tells you how to get there with turn by turn directions. Now I realize that GPS navigator systems have been around for a long time, but this is my first real exposure to it, and I’m hooked. It also gives you walking directions for when I travel. I got the TomTom because my work is increasingly involving GIS systems. In StoryStarters we plotted questions to locations. In my committee work with the Transportation Research Board, GIS is becoming a key technology to organize transportation information.
It seems initially ironic that as the Internet hooks everything together and where information is increasingly irrelevant, the GIS and GPS applications are becoming more prevalent. However, on further thought I get it. More than making information’s location less relevant, the Internet is making is easy to combine all sorts of information. With the interconnection of information large scale organizational schemes start to become more important. What larger scale organizational scheme is there than the earth? While not everything naturally maps to a location, it is amazing how many do.