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What is Next Nature?

With our attempts to cultivate nature, humankind causes the rising of a next nature, which is wild and unpredictable as ever. Wild systems, genetic surprises, autonomous machinery and splendidly beautiful black flowers. Nature changes along with us.

GPS influence on street signage?

GPS influence on street signage?

In the future, every street will be a Nokia street? Perhaps not, however we may expect some changes in street signage due to the arrival of mobile & gps technology. Once everyone is carrying a personal navigation device those bluntly placed street signage may become obsolete – Try and find a cellphone booth in your neighborhood if you are not convinced.

I guess the question is not whether GPS technology will alter street signage, but rather which navigation solution feels more natural. Lets do a quick poll.

Which of the following feels more natural?
A) Finding your way using street signs and a paper map.
B) Finding your way with an interactive GPS solution.

Type your answer + explanation (optional) in the comment box below.

On the Road, Google Manhole, Your grand-grand-grand parents new media, Follow the red cable. Image via Postais Globais.


  1. B. GPS feels more natural for me because of the lower cognitive load. However, I am still waiting for a navigation technology that fully exploits my deeply rooted savanna navigation skills.

  2. Arne


  3. B

    Though some people may need a course: http://www.nextnature.net/?p=2063

  4. Koert, have you ever heard of the ‘songlines’ Australian Aboriginals use? GPS avant-la-lettre:

    “Songlines, also called Dreaming tracks by Indigenous Australians, are an ancient cultural concept, meme and motif perpetuated through oral lore and singing and other storytelling modalites such as dance and painting. Songlines are an intricate series of song cycles that identify landmarks and subtle tracking mechanisms for navigation. For the Aborigines all land is sacred and alive. Their ancestors gave life in singing, gave them life through song, and dwell in the land still. The songs must be continually sung to keep the land “alive”. In singing they preserve the land/story/dreaming of their ancestors, and recreate it in their oneness of past, present and future.”

    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songlines

  5. I doubt they will replace street signs. It’s a bit like how computers were supposed to eliminate the need for paper. After all how can you be 100% sure you have arrived at your destination without a sign? It’s a bit like how some shops don’t bother to put a prominent street number. You end up muddling it out somehow because you eventually find something with a number. On street signage gives your bearings and confirms what your GPS tells you.

  6. @ Patricia: good point.
    @ Hendrik-Jan: Yes, I know the songlines used by Aboriginals and find it fascinating how they are able to find their way by reading the landscape. Information decoration avant la lettre. Would be wonderful to run a project that addresses gps technology in a different way by combining them with songlines.

  7. J

    Because it feels more like an adventure that you have passed as a GPS that navigate you to your destination. Obviously, it is an advantage if you use a GPS if you have an important meeting for example. But if you visit a city in your freetime, that you don’t know, it is a feeling of elation when you find your wished destination without any electronic facilities.

    Sorry about my English… I hope my point of view is written comprehensible.

  8. I enjoy street signs and paper maps. When I get totally lost, I admit that I power up Google Maps/GPS on my smartphone and get back on track!

    Signs and maps will never be replaced. They are portable, low energy consumptive and powerful tools for improving brain connections!

  9. adam

    Street signs are easy to read even in direct sunlight, unlike a GPS screen.

    Paper maps show the wider context and the local region at the same time. I find zooming in and out on a small screen disorientates.

    GPS is a substitute for using your own intelligence to plan a route – how many times have you heard of car drivers ending up in rivers or stuck on narrow paths through their owners dependance on GPS overriding any use of observation or sense?

  10. vierundachtzig

    I think I would look at Google Maps at home where to go. Then I would take the street map for the rest :-)
    Really, I can’t say that GPS navigation is intuitive for me, although I am technically experienced and part of the younger generation.

  11. vierundachtzig

    @ adam
    Recently I read something about people who made a U-turn on the highway or in a tunnel. Some other guy drove into a lake, all because of the navigation system. Of course it’s not the fault of the navi, but it is still funny to see how people switch out their intelligence and just follow this friendly voice…

  12. wiets

    B) – though I most add that A sounds more exciting ( but lets keep that for holidays)

  13. Michael

    To be honest, I’ve never used GPS wayfinding. I prefer to look at a map and exercise my internal, biological memory instead… oh, and I enjoy the adventure of making the odd mistake and having to ask someone.

  14. Evan

    Hopefully the day will never come when everyone is “carrying a personal navigation device.” Almost there, but not quite, and street signs will still work when the oil wells go dry and the power goes out for good.