How will Google Maps change our reality?

Google Maps Cube screenshot

Much of the controversy surrounding Google Maps has centered on relatively concrete concerns like privacy and data gathering. But in a piece for The Guardian, Oliver Burkeman argues that digital mapping’s long-term impacts may fundamentally change the way we perceive and interact with the world around us. Aimless wandering, for instance, could easily become an antiquated practice, rendering Baudelaire’s flâneur as extinct as the dodo bird. And wouldn’t an ever-aggressive data onslaught further disconnect us from our environment?

Not every cartographer agrees with Burkeman’s hypothetical, arguing that Google Maps actually makes it easier for us to wander and “get lost,” since reorienting ourselves has become that much easier. But…

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