Author Topic: Five reasons why we should still read maps  (Read 2442 times)

Lost Soul

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Five reasons why we should still read maps
« on: May 02, 2015, 09:21:23 AM »
Interesting item from BBC News Website. 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-32551090

boogyman

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Re: Five reasons why we should still read maps
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2015, 03:31:31 PM »
Maps are an aid to the brain, not a replacement of it. That statement makes sense to me.

ianj37

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Re: Five reasons why we should still read maps
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2015, 08:38:33 PM »
This echoes the recently published thoughts of the UK Royal Institute for Navigation (a Royal Institute - who knew! I didn't but the online magazine Grough picked it up) -
http://www.grough.co.uk/magazine/2015/05/02/tech-gadgets-mean-britons-are-losing-their-way-when-it-comes-to-map-reading

I also can't argue with what they are saying but equally I do think that GPS does have its place - I learnt a lot of map interpretation on the hills and moors by using the GPS to ensure that I was exactly where I thought I was and then matching what I could see around me with the map. Also as someone said in a comment to the Grough article a lot can be learnt about map interpretation by using the 3D function in digital mapping and without GPS systems it seems unlikely that digital mapping would be so readily available. Perhaps the map v GPS situation should be an 'and' not an 'or'.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2015, 08:41:37 PM by ianj37 »

ianj37

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Re: Five reasons why we should still read maps
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2015, 09:36:17 AM »
The debate widens - The Great Outdoor Magazine have now started an on-line vote about navigation skills -
http://tgomagazine.co.uk/news/where-does-navigation-s-future-lie

Lost Soul

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Re: Five reasons why we should still read maps
« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2015, 01:24:16 PM »
Ianj37, The problem with GPS is that people become over reliant on it.  A 'why bother with map and compass because its difficult compared to looking at the GPS screen' attitude.  As has been stated several times elsewhere on this forum.  GPS is seductive even to the most hardened of map and compass navigators, who in turn have relied on GPS and come unstuck.

However, I certainly agree with all you state in your 10 May post.  Map and GPS is not a bad philosophy, but GPS is the back up.  Assuming the signal are not corrupted GPS gives you an undeniable position fix but does little for situational awareness.  On the other hand a map is second to none for that.

Certainly on a recent holiday in Namibia, GPS was very useful.  Driving vast distances.  Miles upon endless miles of uninhabited desert, mountain and bush.   

The only mapping available was 1 million or 1/2 million scale. Very little topographic information and so not easy to position fix unless one happened across a very infrequent road junction or was on a wiggly mountain road.  OK could have done it by timing and distance etc particularly on the endlessly straight roads, but GPS was far more convenient.  So GPS came into its own here. 

Grab a lat and long transfer to map and all was well.  Maps had lat and long grids, but their register with the landscape seemed to be a bit out in places.  But so what.   Using both we were certainly able to know where we were in the landscape.  Good situational awareness.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2015, 02:44:54 PM by Lost Soul »

ianj37

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Re: Five reasons why we should still read maps
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2015, 11:27:12 AM »
And the debate hots up with the Mountaineering Council of Scotland joining in -

http://www.grough.co.uk/magazine/2015/05/13/hillwalkers-warned-relying-on-gadgets-could-put-your-life-at-risk

Lost Soul - I take your point but I can't agree that GPS is always the backup. That the user has to have map, including how to relate the land to the map and vice versa, and compass skills and be able to switch between paper map and GPS OS map seamlessly has to be taken as read. And of course that they know how to use the GPS as a tool. However, I have found that there are some occasions - blowing a gale or slinging it down, where in my opinion it is less risky to look at a GPS OS map than it is to work with the paper map whilst trying to stop it blowing away.

I think you have hit the nail on the head with 'reliance' and 'over reliance' - blind faith always has great potential to lead to problems. I was taught when using a map and compass to always find 3 - 5 things on the map and on the ground that agree to confirm that I had got the position right (and the time I didn't and assumed led to a long walk!) and this principle should be applied whether it's map and compass or GPS with map.