Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What's Your Address?

TigerBlog remembers his first experience with a GPS.

It was during the 2007 NCAA men's lacrosse Final Four, which was held in Baltimore. John Cornell, one of only two people ever to hold the title "director of publications" at Princeton athletics, had left here to live in Annapolis, and he was in a car that TB was driving on the way to the Outback Steakhouse.

TB is pretty sure he had an Outback Special, and there was probably a Bloomin' Onion involved. As TB looks out over the bananas on his desk and thinks about the grapes in the fridge, well, those clearly were the good old days.

Anyway, it was the Outback in Glen Burnie, outside Baltimore, and TB isn't sure if Cornell had the GPS on his phone or as an actual GPS.

What TB does remember is being completely fascinated by the whole concept of the GPS.

How in the world did the GPS know exactly where TB's car was? And how did it know how to get to the Outback? And how did the GPS now exactly how much further it was down the road to the restaurant?

TB is also pretty sure that once he started to grasp the concept that it was all being controlled by satellites in space, his first thought was that the government would know where he was eating dinner. Ah, but this is a non-politcal blog.

Anyway, the GPS has quickly gone from being something out of science fiction to being a part of mainstream, everyday life.

Mapquest used to be the way to find an unfamiliar destination, and TB still uses the site for a general reference. The GPS, which TB resisted getting for as long as possible, is now the staple.

It's really a weird dynamic, one of complete faith in some modern technology, without any questions asked of the technology itself.

TB wishes he could go back to when he was a kid, sit his room with his manual typewriter and black-and-white TV that had no remote and only a few channels with an antenna on the roof, and have someone lay out for him where technology was going to be in a few short decades.

TB surmises that those born in, say, 1558 didn't have that much of a difference in what was going on by the time it was 1600.

The last half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century saw huge jumps in transportation, communication, medicine and so many other areas, and that is nothing compared to what has happened in the last 60 years, or even two or three years for that matter.

As for a GPS, TB is amazed at how he simply goes wherever it tells him to, making this turn or that turn without giving it a thought.

This past weekend, TigerBlog Jr. and Miss TigerBlog were playing on fields about 30 minutes apart. TB went back and forth, and he found himself confronted with another oddity - the GPS took him one way from the first field to the second and then another direction from the second field back to the first.

Or people who came from basically the same area had their GPSs take them a different way.

Princeton Athletics has its own GPS-related issue to deal with, and that's the fact that none of the facilities has an actual street address.

For years, TB would tell people that if they wanted to mail something to Jadwin, the address was "Washington & Faculty Roads, Princeton, NJ 08544." That doesn't quite work with a GPS.

Neither does P.O. Box 71, Princeton, NJ, which is another mailing address for the athletic department.

Eventually, TB started estimating where on Faculty Road Jadwin would be, and he's pretty sure 1400 Faculty Road gets you here, unless on your particular GPS there is no 1400 Faculty Road.

Back when 609.258.3568 was the main number for the OAC, there were all kinds of "press here" options for the caller, including one for directions. That number hasn't been part of this office in a long time though.

There are directions on the webpage to the athletic facilities, and there are coordinates that can be entered into some GPSs. TB isn't sure if that's even an option for any new GPSs, now that he thinks about it.

He'll have to check his out later.

Phone calls asking for directions to facilities are rare, so people must be finding their way. And TB assumes they're using a GPS to do so.

Enter the address. Blindly follow.

What is coming next?

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