What Do You Think? Archived Poll

The Loss of Valuable Skills

Paper maps used to be the norm for planning a trip, but now smartphones and GPS devices can work out directions for you. Are we losing valuable skills as technology changes?
89% (150 votes)
11% (19 votes)
Total votes: 169
Commenting is closed


Submitted by Jim Bloom on

As a sailor, I'm glad I learned to navigate before GPS. When the equipment fails, and it will due to lightning, etc., I will still be able to find my way with pencil, paper, watch and a compass.

Submitted by George Kaplan on

Too many of us are becoming push-button navigators, totally dependent on machines to tell us where we are and where to go. What happens when the machines fail?

Submitted by Peter on

Of course we are. Ask Marvin Creamer (and his ship the Globestar), who did the first instruments free circumnavigation, an event that has NEVER received its due recognition.

Submitted by Doug Drumheller on

When I gave a talk to the instructors of marine navigation at US Naval Academy at Annapolis, I discovered that some of them did not understand the connection between time and longitude. That's scary!

Submitted by Maggie on

GPS devices can get broken or lost - then you have to go back to a paper map! Reading maps can be difficult for some people. It's too bad geography is no longer taught in school. It would help explain to people their relationship to their locale & why we cannot be an isolationistic society.

Submitted by H.C.J. Hiensch on

Pretty soon no one will know what 2+2 equals. I use GPS all the time on board our sailboat, it keeps me off the reefs. But I never sail without paper charts and every so often I plot my position using dead reckoning and other 'old fashioned' tools. (like a pencil) Sooner or later any electronic device will fail.

Submitted by Ray Puff on

GPS is an amazing tool but there is never a reason not to have maps/charts available. GPS can fail for many reasons and the "old fashion" methods are tried and true! We should never loose those skills.

Submitted by Frank Van Cleve on

I spent a couple thousand hours out of Midway Island on the Pacific Barrier. We used a sextant and Loran charts that were stamped "THEORETICAL COVERAGE NOT FOR NAVIGATION" When using stars for navigation the best you could do on a clear nite was find where you were fifteen minutes ago! Flying at something over 200 mph thats some 50 miles ago! We sure would have welcomed a GPS unit! I was known as " All over the Ocean Van Cleve

Submitted by Monica on

While GPS will give a precise location, we do not learn as much about the areas surrounding our travels and their locations relative to each other. Learning about neighbors and their neighborhoods is left by the wayside when the maps are surrendered.

Submitted by Steve on

As a pilot, navigation is key, and although we use GPS more than most, personally, I never go out without having a well planned "backup", and all pilots expect that during a flight test, if they show reliance on the devices, the pilot examiner will turn them off, and say "Uh Oh.. your batteries just died.. now what are you going to do?"... You better have a good answer!

Submitted by Anonymous on

Batteries die, signals fade, electronics are very fussy when it comes to inclement weather. The ability to read a paper map and compass will always be a valuable bit of knowledge when all else fails.

Submitted by Zaven der Boghossian Lt Col USAF (Ret) on

You better have at least one good map and time piece. I have had to use them more than once when the computer took a break.

Submitted by Roger Davis, the Cartograsaurus on

You'd better have a paper map like a USGS 1:24K Quad as back up in case your fancy electronic gadget poops out or your batteries die. Just a thought from an old timer.

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