Friday, 29 May 2009
Guidebook beats gadgets
"Guidebook beats smartphones"
With new technologies developing at the speed of light, it's sometimes easy to forget where we started from.
Just because something is 'new and improved', doesn't make everything that came before it obsolete. In fact, occasionally these 'ancient' methods actually prove more practical!
Conde Nast Traveller magazine sent three reporters to Moscow - one armed with an iPhone, one with a BlackBerry Bold and one with an old-fashioned guidebook - to see whether the gadgets or the book were more helpful in completing a series of typical tourist challenges (finding a hotel, a restaurant, a bar, various attractions and a pharmacy).
The writer armed with the guidebook completed most of the tasks more quickly and easily than the writers with gadgets.
(Report from Yahoo 7 Travel, 29.05.09; Image: Baedeker's Guide to Great Britain. Karl Baedeker invented the traveller's guidebook in 1835.)
Comment: I must say I wasn't surprised to read this report, which came up this morning as I signed in to check my e-mail. Some months ago I trekked (well, drove actually) some 600 kms to a pastors' conference, traversing country totally unfamiliar to me armed with only a Gregory's road atlas and the angels to guide me, and yet still I arrived safely at the somewhat obscure destination just before dusk as planned. The conversation at breakfast the next morning centred around how hard the place was to find. "Didn't you have a map?", I inquired. "Map? Oh no, we used our cars' GPS!" was the collective reply at my table. One or two confessed they even had to ring the resort (which makes it sound much more up-market than it actually was, although it was comfortable enough) for directions after dark.
Call me an ancient relic with Luddite sympathies if you will - indeed I graduated from high school before personal computers and calculators arrived in the classroom - but, laptop and blog-site notwithstanding, give me a guidebook over a gadget, a map over a GPS, a book over a Kindle, and a real person at the other end of the line over a computerised telephony system any day.