Pinpoint: How GPS Is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds

Pinpoint How GPS Is Changing Technology Culture and Our Minds In the tradition of The Information and The Shallows Pinpoint tells the story of GPS and how it is affecting our brains our technology and our culture Over the last fifty years humanity has develo

  • Title: Pinpoint: How GPS Is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds
  • Author: Greg Milner
  • ISBN: 9780393089127
  • Page: 162
  • Format: Hardcover
  • In the tradition of The Information and The Shallows, Pinpoint tells the story of GPS and how it is affecting our brains, our technology, and our culture.Over the last fifty years, humanity has developed an extraordinary shared utility the Global Positioning System Omnipresent, free, and available to all, GPS powers everything from your phone to the Internet to the MarsIn the tradition of The Information and The Shallows, Pinpoint tells the story of GPS and how it is affecting our brains, our technology, and our culture.Over the last fifty years, humanity has developed an extraordinary shared utility the Global Positioning System Omnipresent, free, and available to all, GPS powers everything from your phone to the Internet to the Mars Rover Greg Milner tells the sweeping story of GPS from its conceptual origins as a bomb guidance system to its present ubiquity While GPS has revolutionized methods of timekeeping, navigation, and seismological prediction, it has also altered human behavior, introducing phenomena such as Death by GPS, in which drivers blindly follow their devices into deserts, lakes, and impassable mountains Milner also shows the desperate vulnerabilities in the system we now use to predict the weather, track prisoners, and land airplanes Delving into the neuroscience of cognitive maps and spatial recognition, Milner s inventive and timely book is at once a grand history of the scientific urge toward precision and perfection and a revelatory philosophy of how humans understand themselves in the world.

    One thought on “Pinpoint: How GPS Is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds”

    1. This is not the history of the GPS project--or at least, not much. Instead, it is a punch-drunk weave of examples attempting to convince that the existence of GPS has, or "may be altering the nature of human cognition--possibly even rearranging the gray matter in our head." My first thought: is Mr Milner the last believer in Jean-Baptiste Lamarck? The beginning recounts the now familiar story of Polynesian Eastern migration via a system that those used to Cartesian space --Captain Cook among the [...]

    2. Mostly a waste of time. The beginning on Polynesian navigation was fascinating, as was the description toward the end of uses for earth sciences (plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes) and space. But everything in the middle is pretty boring.

    3. 3.5 starsThe effective thesis of this book is that GPS is really, really important. It's not as silly or overaggrandized as it sounds—and which is proved by all the detail in here—but the problem is, there's nothing sexy about GPS. So a topic that is, yes, essential to the modern world, and any risk to which should keep us awake at night (especially thanks to lax security), just ends up feeling stretched out, because there isn't that much to say.The lack of technical minutiae is a boon to th [...]

    4. GPS is woven into the society of modern life to an astounding degree—much more than I realized. It doesn’t just keep track of location, it also regulates time. The importance of GPS is definitely on par with the internet. Many have suggested that the way we interact with the internet may be changing our brains—and the same may be true for GPS. Greg Milner’s book provides a fascinating history of the development of the GPS technology. Apparently the Air Force couldn’t imagine a good use [...]

    5. I found this book at a bazaar. I had never heard of it before, but I bought it anyway. As someone who's working with GPS, I thought the book might be interesting. I've read a lot of articles about how GPS is bad (which frankly infuriates me), and I thought this book would be more or less the same. Especially after reading the blurb about how GPS might be altering our brains (but what technology isn't?). I expected some GPS bashing and shaming.I was pleasantly surprised to find how accurate the b [...]

    6. Enjoyable & accessible science writing! This book filled in plenty of gaps in my knowledge that I didn't know were there. My personal interest in any given chapter's subject matter was hit or miss; I would have loved to read more about the cultural changes resulting from so many individuals carrying GPS-enabled devices around. We learn quite a bit about the ethics and legality of law enforcement using GPS to track individuals, but that chapter just touches on the same technology used by empl [...]

    7. Good start but stalled. Try again??Or not. I read some of the critical reviews, here and at , and I think I'll call it good. The author is no expert, and made some dumb mistakes and silly/nonsensical extrapolations. Or so others think. "Life is Short. Books are Many."

    8. Quick—guess how many GPS satellites there are up there in space? 100? 200? My wife just guessed 4,000. Well, the answer is 24. All owned and operated by the U.S. military’s 50th Space Wing 2nd Space Operations Squadron. Sixteen monitoring stations keep that shit together day in and day out at 20,000 kilometers up in space. GPS runs more stuff than you know—more than just driving to the Gap over in Willowdale. It does military security, measures the tectonic plates, and plays a huge role in [...]

    9. As someone always concerned about privacy while at the same time wanting to utilize the latest in technology, I found this book to be a fascinating and enlightening read. The ethics of GPS as regards privacy and Fourth Amendment rights had been something that had long been bothering me, and I was happy that Milner covered the topic in this book.The author takes readers on a journey through the beginning of how humans navigated and saw the world into how the use of GPS began with mainly military [...]

    10. Pretty interesting. I really enjoyed the history of the Polynesian explorers, the focus on tectonic plates, and the discussions of earthquakes and tsunamis best. Milner also does a good job of explaining GPS tech. I thought I would be interested in that since I learned about in geology class (because of it's relation to measuring earthquakes, but I was not as interested in that as I thought I might be. Though, I can see other people liking a lot more than I did. One of the best aspects of this b [...]

    11. I really liked this book. GPS is way more than the blue dot on your phone app. Milner takes the reader on a vast journey from the etak navigation methods of the Polynesian sailors to the guidance systems on the Mars lander. What started out simply as an Air Force bomber guidance project has become an indispensable backbone of modern civilization. Milner introduces the reader to vast variety of non-military technologies that rely on GPS including air traffic control, sugar beet farming, plate tec [...]

    12. I can't really give an unbiased review of this one. GPS is my industry, so I thought the topic was incredibly interesting--I honestly don't know whether someone not in my field would like it or not. The history he goes through is so new that some of it has happened even since I've been working in the field, so I remember it. I found myself not so much reading the book as studying it, marking up almost every page with highlighter of things I want to remember. Mr. Milner is coming to speak at a co [...]

    13. This is a fascinating book that explores how GPS creates cognitive transformation. Milner probes how GPS is impacting on our culture. The section on "Death by GPS" is powerful. It is well written, as we expect of Milner. But I would have preferred greater attention to literacy and theories of geosociality. It is difficult to 'prove' how GPS change our 'brains.' It is more instructive to probe how GPS changes how we think about bodies, space and movement. That is a different book. But this one of [...]

    14. Milner provides some interesting historical information and explanation of GPS, but he tries to do it all with words. This book would have been so much better, both in terms of reading enjoyment and ease of comprehension, if Milner had included 20-30 cartoons or diagrams, illustrating how GPS and other devices for location and timing work.

    15. Highly recommended for anyone interested in navigation. (I'll confess I didn't understand every bit of the science, but I think that's my deficit and not the book's fault).

    16. A few years ago, I read Greg Milner's "Perfecting Sound Forever." That book, about the history of recorded music, was engaging, funny and often enlightening -- even as it got bogged down in the techno-speak of computer files in its last chapter or so. I was hoping for the same from "Pinpoint."Well, "Pinpoint" was enlightening in places. But it too often wasn't engaging, and it definitely wasn't funny. I don't know if I should entirely blame Milner. The subtitle promises much but doesn't quite de [...]

    17. Pinpoint is a combination history and pop scientific look at how GPS was developed, how it's used, and how it's permeated our society in ways unforeseen by its inventors. The ability of Milner to tie all of these points into a one cohesive books is laudable, but the goal sometimes falls short. The 4 stars is mainly a reflection of the strongest chapters of the book.Milner begins Pinpoint with Part I that is a sketch of the history of military and civilian development of GPS. He begins with a sho [...]

    18. I picked up Pinpoint because I have read Nicholas Carr's The Shallows and am interested in neuroplasticity (especially how the environment - including technology - affects the physiology of the brain via neuroplasticity) and am an avid consumer of GPS based technology such as Google Maps (I use the Google Maps in my cell phone to get anywherewith which I am unfamiliar). Pinpoint was billed as something similar, but with a focus on GPS and how find our way in the world, so I thought would be an i [...]

    19. This is a popular survey of all the things GPS and GIS make possible--municipal websites and their interactive maps of garbage pickup days, marketing via tapestry segmentation, tracking invasive species, self-driving cars and navigation loaded into your cell phone. The most interesting chapters are about the development of GPS as a government-funded military technology for navigation and its demonstrated utility for precision munitions in Kosovo and the Gulf War, and the first chapter, which off [...]

    20. I had no idea GPS was so ubiquitous in society. It's everywhere apparently. This book was a combination of history and technological explanation. It's very technical in some parts and was above my head, but it was interesting to read and a great book for anyone who wants to geek out about satellites, aviation, beet farming, start-ups, truck driving, seismology, plate tectonics, or even privacy law. From its start as an unfavorite military project to its current presence in phones, planes, cars, [...]

    21. Hands down most captivating tech book I've read in a while. GPS must be the most under-rated, most ubiquitous tech we have these days. But how does it affect our brains capability to create (geo spatial) cognitive maps? How to spoof & hijack a drone? And how is so much critical infrastructure (electricity, financial markets, logistics) depending on it? For now, these are the questions coming to my mind when firing up Google Maps :)

    22. The introduction is the most exciting and intriguing part of the book. I found the first half to be really slow, and then a bit more information that is applicable for socio-cultural coursework towards the end. Honestly, I heard the author speak about the book on a podcast for NPR and his interview and summary were more interesting than the book. It's not a disappointment because I can use the intro with my students.

    23. Reading this book created a big picture of how GPS technology was developed and is used. How it is connected and dependent on other technologies. A couple of times this book went off topic and I wondered the connections. Lots of technical information and lots of people involved made it hard at times to keep on the thread.

    24. A good look at all of the unseen ways that GPS and mapping technologies underlay all of the things we use every day. Interesting, but I could have done without the dozens of named people followed throughout the entire history of the tech. I'm really more interested in new applications and how GPS affects our lives now.

    25. A fascinating journalistic investigation into GPS technology. The author delves deeply into the history and background of the technology, reminding us of all that goes into, and depends on, this invisible network.

    26. I wasn't as impressed with this book as I wanted to be. Lots of facts and interesting information but not something I would seek out again.

    27. Wide ranging, and deeply interesting, history and overview of GPS. Lots to think about here, and a lot of insight into how GPS affects us as individuals and as a community.

    28. Much information and history made me appreciate the GPS use on the smart phones. The broad approach of Mr Milner made for an interesting listen.

    29. Fantastic! This is s great view into the history of navigation and technology we take for granted. It's as informative as it is well written and fun to read.

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