The WWW stole my brain

Some elements in the media would have you believe that we’ve become passive receptacles for information, to the extent that information providers are responsible for our actions.

Various news outlets are running a ridiculous story, suggesting that online mapping services contributed to the death of a journalist in Oregon. The driver:

“…may never have made that fateful wrong turn if he hadn’t used the internet to look up directions for his journey, US media reports suggest.”

There’s so much wrong with this simplistic analysis, it’s hard to know where to begin. Another quote sums it up:

“…the cyber-savvy family may have plucked the route…from an online mapping service, unaware of the elements”

No map – online or otherwise – provides contextual information. A road on a map is just a line – it tells you nothing about the state of the road now. As for unaware of the elements – it’s winter in the Oregon wilderness. How unaware can a person be? You don’t use Google Maps to tell you whether it’s winter; you use a weather service. Or look out the window.

I think what we have here is an unfortunate case of someone who assumed that they would not break down or become lost and so failed to take a few sensible precautions, such as checking the conditions, carrying sufficient food, supplies and appropriate clothing. It’s a tragic accident – let’s not inflate it into another “the internet is the root of all evil” story.

2 thoughts on “The WWW stole my brain

  1. It gets even more absurd to blame the web now that the wife (who survived) has gone on record that they used an old-fashioned paper atlas and not software to plan their route.

  2. Really – I hadn’t read about that. Sometimes I think that the mainstream news media live in a parallel world where there is no truth except what they write.

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