'You Are Here' maps course for directionally challenged | Science News

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'You Are Here' maps course for directionally challenged

From the Compass to GPS, the History and Future of How We Find Ourselves, by Hiawatha Bray

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9:00am, April 19, 2014

These days, it can be almost impossible to get lost. The creation of affordable smartphones has put personal homing beacons into over a billion pockets and pocketbooks, enabling even the most directionally challenged to locate the nearest Starbucks or find their way around a traffic accident. Yet the technology that enables easy navigation was centuries — even millennia — in the making. Boston Globe technology reporter Hiawatha Bray chronicles the evolution of navigational and mapmaking tools and how they have shaped modern society.

First invented to aid in exploration, then to guide instruments of war and to spy on Cold War enemies, location technology is now being used to track regular people. Governments and corporations can follow the movements of citizens and consumers, for peacekeeping or for profit. Over half

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