when everyone knows everything

by Hugh

Instant info everywhere kills the secret, out-of-the-way gem:

As GPS transceivers become common accessories in cars, the benefits have been manifold. Millions of us have been relieved of the nuisance of getting lost or, even worse, the shame of having to ask a passerby for directions.

But, as with all popular technologies, those dashboard maps are having some unintended consequences. In many cases, the shortest route between two points turns out to run through once-quiet neighborhoods and formerly out-of-the-way hamlets.

Villages have been overrun by cars and lorries whose drivers robotically follow the instructions dispensed by their satellite navigation systems. The International Herald Tribune reports (tinyurl.com/24zcyg) that the parish council of Barrow Gurney has even requested, fruitlessly, that the town be erased from the maps used by the makers of navigation devices.

Hard-core surfers are finding their private waves are getting invaded by hordes, who have been following surfcams streaming live on the web.

At the same time, though, transparency is erasing the advantages that once went to the intrepid, the dogged and the resourceful. The surfer who through pluck and persistence found the perfect wave off an undiscovered stretch of beach is being elbowed out by the lazy masses who can discover the same wave with just a few mouse clicks. The commuter who pored over printed maps to find a shortcut to work finds herself stuck in a jam with the GPS-enabled multitudes.

You have to wonder whether, as what was once opaque is made transparent, the bolder among us will lose the incentive to strike out for undiscovered territory. What’s the point when every secret becomes, in a real-time instant, common knowledge?