Landmarks, wayfinding and the 3-ring binder

Abstract Dynamics:

“What happens to landmarks when every store is a chain? When we live life at 70 miles an hour we hand our navigation skills over to the government and place our trust in freeway signage. But what about when slow down to 35, stop and go, through the infinite “strip” feeds Americans and their cars?

The preferred navigation is landmark. Follow the river, keep the mountain on your left, turn right at the large oak, veer left at the rabbit rock. Walk towards the walls, through the iron gates, left at inn, right at the bank. Towards the capital, left at the Starbucks, right at the Jamba Juice, you’ll see it right before the B of A… All of a sudden our landmarks are multiplying. And make no mistake plenty of effort goes into making sure those marks are memorable. But anyone who turns at a Starbucks is going nowhere but in circles…”

Puts me in mind of the franchised-landscape spread by the DNA of the 3-ring binders as described in Snowcrash.

0 comments
  1. Abe said:

    good comparison there, should go reread Snow Crash. That will make two cyberpunk books read or reread due to one little post, not bad…

  2. ChrisL said:

    I had some very interesting discussions on this point with some of the location product people at my previous employer. We were trying to understand how important culture was in deciding waypoints – i.e. one person may describe a journey using pubs, and another using churches, depending on whether they’re drinkers or christians.

    The ‘drinkers or christians’ debate became a useful, if too polar, shorthand for exactly what you describe above. The more important impact for us was how people but verbally or textually describe journeys using pubs as landmarks in a corporate era when pub names change very quickly. Suddenly the instructions you’re given to ‘turn left and the crown and sceptre’ make no sense when all you can see is a fleece and frickin’ whatever.

    It was an important lesson for me that the afternoon whims of some branding monkey in megaleisurecorp were screwing the reliability of our aGPS database faster than we could fix it.

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