Ted Florence is ready for his family trip to Botswana. He has looked up his hotel on Google Maps and downloaded a digital map of the country to his phone. He has also packed a large paper map. “I travel all over the world,” says Florence, the president of the international board of the International Map Industry Association and Avenza Maps, a digital map software company. “Everywhere I go, my routine is the same: I get a paper map, and I keep it in my back pocket.”
With the proliferation of smartphones, it’s easy to assume that the era of the paper map is over. That attitude, that digital is better than print, is what I call “technochauvinism.” In my book, “Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World,” I look at how technochauvinism has been used to create an unnecessary, occasionally harmful bias for digital over print or any other kind of interface. A glance at the research reveals that the paper map still thrives in the digital era, and there are distinct advantages to using print maps.
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