11/08/2005

More convenience at our fingertips

Google and Yahoo are both in the process of bringing about capabilities such as viewing maps and satellite images and searching for local businesses to the cell phone industry. These are not new concepts, but are enhanced services. The whole purpose is to benefit the consumer with convenience. Google introduced their development yesterday and is in the trial basis currently. Another aspect of this service is the ability to get driving directions. This is the part that scares me! There are enough drivers out there that cannot talk on a cell phone and drive at the same time, much less look for directions on their phone...while driving! I am curious as to what laws will be passed in order to prevent accidents if this is a really big hit. One thing to note is that Google will not be charging the customers any fees for this service. If the customer is charged any fees, it will be through their cell phone carrier.

4 comments:

Jasmine said...

I am all about convenience and technology, although I pose the question, is there such thing as too much convenience? I am not necessarily referring to these new mapping systems and direction givers but as a whole I'm a little worried that we might be going overboard on convenience. I mean, look at cell phones for instance, they practically do your laundry for you now. I was so excited to get my first camera phone, but now looking back on it, I have barely even used half of the functions that it offers. Why? Because I don't need them. I guess that is my point whether you agree or disagree is up to you.

Dr. Tufte said...

I think if you are going to use this sort of argument against directions (that people might read them while in the car), then you'd have to extend it both ways - to reading street signs and/or books while driving.

The problem here isn't the incentive to do this while driving, it is the lack of disincentive to do it while driving. The way to discourage this is to make the driver less safe so that the costs of doing this while driving are internalized. Economists kid about mounting a spear point on the steering wheel pointed at the driver's chest, but this would prevent this sort of problem.

Matthew said...

Dr. Tufte stated that an argument like this needs to be stated both ways. That is so true. For some people, texting can be as easy as changing a radio station, especially if they type in the address at a stop light or while pulled over. I've used Google on my phone to get directions and it was great. I did it while in the passenger seat, so some people do use the tool responsibly. By the way, it's interesting to comment on this post three years later, when most phones come with GPS systems, Internet and email capabilities, video cameras, and MP3 players! I can only wait to see what will happen in three more years!

Dr. Tufte said...

We've all had cars that need alignments - what if your car was programmed to veer to the right every time you took your hands off the steering wheel? I think that would take care of this problem.