More proof that GPS is evil

[see previous evidence here, here and here]. Over at BLDGblog Geoff Manaugh reflects on a feature in the last edition of WIRED that praises GPS and user generated map files for allowing rich westerners to travel through remote parts of the world (Namibia in this case) without the need for local guides. In ‘the digital replacement of the natives‘ Geoff argues that this trend – should it become more widespread – will probably be devastating for local economies based on tourism:

I can’t help but wonder what this might foretell for local economies based on guided tourism around the world. For instance, a small group of American tourists comes through your village, eating PowerBars and looking at handheld GPS devices. They don’t go to any restaurants; they don’t ask any questions of anyone; perhaps they don’t even rent a hotel room. For all economic purposes, it’s as if they were never there. They were more like surreal poltergeists wearing Vasque boots, reading Jonathan Safran Foer on a Kindle. What better way to avoid meeting Namibians! Just use their electrical grid to recharge your gadgets, pay no taxes, and leave.

I’m left imagining the inverse of this situation, of course, in which a small group of Namibians shows up in London. They ask no questions, eat at no restaurants, and avoid all hotels – before going off to wander round the countryside, sleeping in tents. It would all seem rather mysterious.

‘Mysterious’ is definitely to soft of a term here: in post 9/11 reality ‘mysterious’ is synonymous with ‘suspicious’ which, (especially if you are not white and handle high tech gadgets) is very likely to result in 90 or so days of detention without charge.

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