Sunday, September 13, 2015

Paper Maps vs. Google Maps

Photo: Oleksiy Maksymenko/ Alamy 
As and international student in Syracuse, I found Google Maps really helpful during my first days of arrival here. While I use Google Maps less now compared to the first days, I still rely on it to travel around the area and find bars, restaurants and other entertainments, and so do other people around the world. The use of digital maps and especially Google Maps has increased while paper maps have seen a steep decline. The main differences between digital maps and paper maps are also the main reasons why I believe Google Maps’ use has increased in the past years:

1. To explore a city, even the size of Syracuse, you will need to have multiple paper maps. This will cost you money but is also inconvenient to carry multiple paper maps around and fold-unfold them to search for information. With Google Maps you can explore more than one particular area with convenience.

2. On the same note, if you are interested to explore more than one activity/entertainment, you might need more than one paper map for the same area. With Google Maps, you have the opportunity to search specifics such as parks, restaurants, and even trails where you can walk and run, without the need of having multiple maps. As a result, I have found the Google Maps to be less time consuming and inexpensive mean of orienting myself in a new area.

3. Compared to paper maps, Google Maps is usually up to date with the latest changes. While both maps might have mistakes, Google Maps and digital maps require less time to make changes and as such have an advantage in fixing mistakes and being up to date compared to paper maps.

4. Another difference between Google Maps and paper maps is the ease of accessibility. Google Maps are easily accessible through smartphones, tablets and computers while paper maps are less accessible. The convenience of digital maps (for the reasons stated above) has affected the accessibility of paper maps. Due to the decrease in demand for paper maps, they are less available now in stores and in different formats/types.

5. Finally, another reason why I use Google Maps rather than paper maps is the difficulty to orientate and locate myself while using a paper map. Having a GPS on the electronic devices have made the use of Google Maps more favorable compared to paper maps. Now you can easily track where are you going and avoid the chance of getting lost without having any skills in reading maps.

Nonetheless, the increase in the use of Google Maps does not mean that paper maps are not used at all. Digital maps and specifically Google Maps tend to have drawbacks. While they are good in guiding you in urban areas, they do worse in guiding you in rural areas and especially in mountainous terrains. Further, you need to have access to data and battery to be able to use Google Maps in your device. As such, most people tend to rely on paper maps and other digital maps/electronic navigation devices that are available without data if they go in a terrain where access or accuracy of Google Maps is not that good. Further, there are still some people such as map collectors who still buy and/or use paper maps.

While there are still some people who use paper maps, there is not denying that a large majority of the population relies on Google Maps in orienting themselves. Even though the latter has its drawbacks, the transformation of technology that has taken place in the last five years is a good indicator that applications such Google Maps can and will be fixed/transformed to suit better our needs.

Two good articles that show how people still use paper maps: Why Digital Maps Aren't Ready to Replace Paper and Paper Maps Refuse to Die in the Digital Age

Internet vs.Web1

Internet is the infrastructure that connects world’s computer networks. Internet allows computers to communicate with one another as long as both are connected. Computers and computer networks used to be connected to one another through wires/cables while now is more common to be connected through wireless connections. The information that computers might share with one another is transmitted through languages that are known as protocols.

The Web is just a way of transmitting/accessing information over the Internet. There are a lot of applications that use Internet (apps on your phone, email); however, Web is the most famous. Web is just pages of information or documents that are connected to one another through links (hyperlinks).Web uses hypertext transfer protocol or http to allow computers/people to access these pages and jump from one page to another. Http protocol is one of the many languages "spoken" by the Internet (protocols). You can view web pages through a web browser such as Chrome or Firefox.

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