Get Lost

Get Lost

Automotive; Jones Live Map Meter, No 215, 20 Disc, Case. [, ltd.]
Jones Live Map Meter with 22 discs compiled by the Touring Club of America; image courtesy of Skinner, Inc.

Get lost tem dois sentidos. “Perca-se” e “saia daqui”. No fundo as duas coisas estão juntas. Perder-se e sair de um lugar, ou ser colocado para fora, é no fundo a mesma coisa. Recentemente li dois artigos muito interessentes sobre os equipamentos de GPS embarcados nos carros e a relação com o lugar. Vou explorá-los um pouco aqui nesse post. O primeiro artigo vem da BBC, Paradise Lost de Joe Moran e o segundo do New Yorker, Getting There. The science of driving directions. by Nick Paumgarten. Nos dois textos, emergem quetões muito interessantes sobre lugar, tecnologias, mobilidade, localização, mapas…ou seja, o conjunto do que se vem chamando de mídias locativas.

Em Paradise Lost, Joe Moran argumenta que os dispositivos de localização automotivos, inventados primeiro na China, com a “carroagem que aponta para o sul” (South Pointing Chariot) e depois, no Ocidente, em 1909 por J.W. Jones, com o Jones Live-Map (ver foto acima) estariam deteriorando o conhecimento local. Sobre o Jones Live-Map vejam um resumo aqui e aqui:

“In 1909, an engineer named J. W. Jones invented a device called the Jones Live-Map, which connected to a car’s odometer. It consisted of a glass-enclosed dial, on which you could place a disk representing a particular trip. The disk had mileage numbers around the perimeter and driving directions printed like spokes on the face. As you progressed down the road, the disk would rotate, telling you where you were and what to do. Live-Map No. 16, for example, guided the ‘motorist tourist’ from Columbus Circle to Waterbury, Connecticut (specifically, the Elton Hotel), telling him, at various intervals, to ‘take right fork at flag pole,’ ‘pass under trolley arch,’ or ‘caution for dangerous curves.’ A promotional booklet for the Jones Live-Map read, ‘You are always sure of your road. . . . You fly past sign boards at speed without a thought. You never stop to inquire your way. Right or wrong, all chance information is useless to you. You are as easy about your road as though you were ‘running on rails.'”

South Pointing Chariot., Model in the Science Museum in London

Sobre a carroagem que aponta para o sul, vejam a descrição da Wikipedia:

“The South Pointing Chariot is widely regarded as one of the most complex geared mechanisms of the ancient Chinese civilization, and was continually used throughout the medieval period as well. It was supposedly invented sometime around 2600 BC in China by the Yellow Emperor Huang Di, yet the first valid historical version was created by Ma Jun (c. 200-265 AD) of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms. The chariot is a two-wheeled vehicle upon which is a pointing figure connected to the wheels by means of differential gearing. Through careful selection of wheel size, track and gear ratios, the figure atop the chariot will always point in the same direction, hence acting as a non-magnetic compass vehicle. Throughout history, many Chinese historical texts have mentioned the South Pointing Chariot, while some described in full detail the inner components and workings of the device.”

O texto de Moran explica que, em 1981, a Honda coloca o Gyrocator no Accord, sendo o primeiro navegador automotivo computadorizado. Em 1980, o governo americano libera o uso do GPS para civis. O desenvolvimento tinha sido na era da guerra friam quando o departamento de defesa desenvolveu o “global positioning by satellite” em resposta ao lançamento do Sputnik, em 1957, pelos soviéticos. Os mapas digitais aparecem então através da empresa britânica NextBase, que criou em 1988 o AutoRoute com informações de mapas rodoviários britânicos. Afirma então Moran que:

“Sat-nav clearly suits an era which has given up on understanding the roads as a coherent, logical system – an era in which map-reading may be going the way of obsolete skills like calligraphy and roof-thatching. Perhaps that is why sat-nav devices are branded things like Road Angel and Time Traveller, presenting themselves not as scientific cartographers, but as magicians and soothsayers, guiding you through the maze of our road system by psychic intuition. Sat-nav is a seductive mixture of science and mystery, perfectly attuned to anyone unlucky enough to find themselves in the maddening twists and turns of the British road system.(…)”

Mais ainda, para ele, esses sistemas estão destruindo o conhecimento local, e do local:

“We still don’t quite trust the electronic voice to get us where we want to go. Since before even the arrival of the car, people have worried that maps sever us from real places, render the world untouchable, reduce it to a bare outline of Cartesian lines and intersections. Sat-nav feeds into this long-held fear that the cold-blooded modern world is destroying local knowledge, that roads no longer lead to real places but around and through them. You can sense it in all those fearful newspaper headlines about motorists guided by their sat-navs to the edges of cliffs or deposited in village ponds. We may have grown to rely on in-car navigation, but it will be a long while before we learn to love it.”

Já Nick Paumgarten, no texto do New Yorker, mostra em Getting There, as dificuldades em se deslocar de carro em 1907 pelos EUA, onde as rodovias não eram numeradas ou marcadas e a única forma de navegação era o contato com os locais:

“Navigation depended, mainly, on asking people along the way where to go next – an untenable state of affairs, it would seem, as long as the drivers were men, which most of them were.”

E mostra os primeiros mapas sendo confeccionados e os primórdios do que seria mais tarde o “google street view“, quando Andrew McNally II coloca uma câmera fotográfica na frente do carro e tira fotos de cada bifurcação ou cruzamento.

“Back in Chicago, McNally compiled the photographs into a booklet, with a little arrow in each photograph indicating the proper direction to take. The booklet was called a Photo-Auto Guide and was essentially a driver’s-eye view of the way to Milwaukee, at least as it looked that spring. (Obsolescence loomed; a new barn or a fallen oak could alter the appearance of the road.)”.

Em 1909 aparece a invenção de Jones, o Live-MAp. Como explica Paumgarten,

“Live-Map No. 16, for example, guided the ‘motorist tourist’ from Columbus Circle to Waterbury, Connecticut (specifically, the Elton Hotel), telling him, at various intervals, to ‘take right fork at flag pole,’ ‘pass under trolley arch,’ or ‘caution for dangerous curves.’ A promotional booklet for the Jones Live-Map read, ‘You are always sure of your road. . . . You fly past sign boards at speed without a thought. You never stop to inquire your way. Right or wrong, all chance information is useless to you. You are as easy about your road as though you were ‘running on rails.'”

Google Street View, Sideny

Tudo estava se preparando para o controle total da prática automobilística, que se expande hoje para tudo, para uma caminhada, para um passeio, para uma volta de bicicleta. Os novos sistemas de navegação por satélite vão assim nos trazer conforto e segurança, em tese, para lutar contra o medo do inusitado, do inesperado, do desconhecido. Como escrevi no final de um artigo, o medo de se perder ou a necessidade de tudo localizar seria uma forma também de se perder, de evitar o que não se conhece a priori. Veja nesse sentido meu Manifesto sobre as Mídias Locativas.

“Navigation is big business these days. Web sites that offer maps and directions, such as MapQuest and Google Earth, are growing more sophisticated; global-positioning satellite technology and the in-car navigation systems that rely on it, such as General Motors’s OnStar and Hertz’s NeverLost, are becoming ubiquitous. Geographic Information Systems, or G.I.S., may be the plastics of our time. It’s not hard to envision the demise of the paper road map, in a generation or two, because a map, for all its charms, is really a smorgasbord of chance information, most of it useless.”

Da mesma forma que Moran, no outro texto, via os Sat-Nav como ferramentas de navegação que podem aniquilar o conhecimento local, Paumgarten vai no mesmo sentido. Para ele, com esses novos sistemas de navegação por satélite perde-se o contato com o local, desconhece-se o que está entre os pontos de saída e de chegada, ou seja, o conhecimento local, do local, pelos locais. Evita-se também toda forma de contato social para buscar informações, já que o sistema forneceria todas as informações. Perde-se, em suas palavras:

“landmark-based instructions, transmitted verbally or in writing by a person with local knowledge. And this is what the new gadgets aspire to as well, flawed as they can sometimes be. They employ algorithmic calculations that seek to impersonate the friend riding shotgun who knows where he’s going, or the bystander who can tell you what you’ll see when you’ve gone too far. Before there were maps, as we understand them, there were itineraries, sequences of customized directions. Maps, to say nothing of the ability to read them, were the stuff of progress. To see and depict the landscape in such abstract terms, as you might from above, requires a measure of sophistication that the mere itinerary, with its blindered view of the world, does not.”

O texto vai mostrar o apogeu da cartografia a partir do seculo XV, onde os mapas começam a ser muito valiosos como ferramentas de conquista e de comércio. Como no século XV, apesar dos satélites e do desenvolvimento tecnológico, os mapas ainda dependerm de observações feitas por pessoas, in loco:

“Navteq, like Prince Henry, produces updates periodically (usually four times a year) for its corporate clients. Its explorers are its geographic analysts, whose job is to go onto the roads to make sure everything that it says about those roads is true—to check the old routes and record the new ones. The practice is called ground-truthing. They drive around and take note of what they call ‘attributes,’ anything of significance to a traveller seeking his way. A road segment can have a hundred and sixty attributes, everything from a speed limit to a drawbridge, an on-ramp, or a prohibition against U-turns. New signs, new roads, new exits, new rules: if such alterations go uncollected by Navteq, the traveller, relying on a device or a map produced by one of Navteq’s clients, might well get lost or confused enough to be ‘fit for Muldoon’s Asylum,’ as the Jones Live-Map brochure put it, in an early acknowledgment of the anguish of being lost in an automobile.”

O autor mostra as características dos mapas:

“A good map can occupy the eye and the mind longer than almost any other single page of data, including Scripture, poetry, sheet music, and baseball box scores. A map contains multitudes. For the past twenty-five years, scholarly discussion of cartography has been dominated by ‘critical geography,’ what you might call a post-structuralist approach to map reading. Such scholars as J. B. Harley and David Woodward, the late, founding editors of a gargantuan and ongoing project called ‘The History of Cartography’ (Volume 1 was published in 1987; Volume 3 is due out in late 2007), began applying the ideas of Derrida and Foucault to maps, seeing in maps’ myriad presentations coded signals about how we look at the world, or, more to the point, how the people who make the maps would like us to see the world.”

Mapas são formas de representação, de visualização que coloca o usuário fora do lugar, acima de tudo, como um Deus. Para além dos detalhes do que está entre um ponto ou outro, ele pode ignorar esses detalhes e escolher onde e como ir. Os mapas agem como ferramentas de navegação que, estando presas aos atributos do lugar, sendo locativas portanto, permitem que o usuário navegue “por cima”, que voe como um pássaro e possa tomar decisões por cima e além das características do lugar. Assim,

“The irony is that centuries later, when we have perfected the God’s – eye map and become conversant with it, we have, in the thrall of technology, turned back to the ancient way: the itinerary and the strip map. OnStar and MapQuest zero in on the information that’s relevant to reaching your destination. ‘They close down your choices and give you a route,’ Akerman said”.

Por fim, o artigo aponta para a característica pervasiva dessas tecnologias, não só os GPS automotivos, mas também os atuais GPS embarcados em celulares. Explica Paumgarten:

“It will be interesting to see how long this expectation survives. As Green told me, Navteq is ‘revolutionizing the way people think about and interact with maps.’ He went on, ‘This technology is going to be pervasive. One thing we’re talking about is potentially having digital maps inform the operation of the car. If you put a digital map in the engine of a car, you may have headlights turning in anticipation of the curvature of the road.’ He mentioned other G.P.S. applications. ‘A mobile consumer can get all kinds of questions answered,’ he said. ‘Where are my buddies? Where’s my family? Where are my kids? Where can I find a barbecue grill within ten miles for less than four hundred dollars?”.

Podemos dizer que os textos mostram os desafios dos sistemas locativos, exemplificados aqui pelos GPS automotivos e os mapas digitais. O que está em discussão é, mais uma vez, a dimensão local da experiência com essas novas mídias. Ou seja, mídia produzindo espacialização. Devemos pensar então se essa forma matemática, racional e cartesiana de lidar com o espaço, em voga com os sistemas pervasivos de localização, pode ser uma maneira de evitar o contato com o que os autores chamam de conhecimento local. Ou se, ao contrério, as tecnologias de localização poderiam ampliar as formas de interação com e apropriação do espaço.