Google Maps Fails and How To Work Less, Travel More
Updated: Mar 8, 2020
Google Maps fails and how to stay creative in a workaholic world with author Rahaf Harfoush.
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Artist Simon Weckert gamed the Google Maps system and thwarted Berlin drivers' commutes by creating traffic jams with...99 smartphones in a wagon. You can see the results here.
Business Insider reported that the artist did the experiment this summer, but published the results earlier this month, just in time for Google Maps' 15th anniversary. The company said that creative uses of the app help refine the process, but Weckert wasn't after efficiency -- he wants to make a few points about our faith in tech and data.
If you've ever struggled with work/life balance, carving out time for travel or creative pursuits, or battled ongoing stress at work, this conversation is a must-listen. Joe spoke with digital anthropologist, New York Times best-selling author, and speaker Rahaf Harfoush about the myth of productivity, preventing burnout, and how we can clear space in our lives for creative pursuits.
Rahaf is the author of Hustle and Float: Reclaim Your Creativity and Thrive in a World Obsessed with Work. In it, she explores the tension between productivity and creativity and how the two intersect.
She's also the Executive Director of the Red Thread Institute of Digital Culture. It's a think tank committed to generating projects, research, speaking engagements and other dynamic experiences that highlight how culture and technology interact.
So what do productivity and creativity have to do with travel? A lot, actually.
As Rahaf mentioned in the interview, we'd be smart to use travel's lessons in flexibility and creativity in our everyday lives. The U.S. Travel Association reports that vacation planners indicated that their mood, relationships, and work performances were improved by scheduled vacation breaks.
Psychology Today agrees. A 2013 study by The Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies showed that travel provided physical and mental benefits. Columbia Business School professor Adam Galinsky concurs that travel promotes cognitive flexibility. This Yale Tribune article lists so many studies that detail the mental, emotional and social benefits of travel that you could spend an entire day researching why taking time off pays off in the long run.
Taking time for yourself, your family, and your sanity isn't selfish. But we often tell ourselves it is. So if you need an altruistic reason to book a vacation, The U.S. Travel Association also reports that if Americans just actually used their vacation days and traveled within their own country, an additional $151 billion could be added to the U.S. economy. So there you go folks -- travel for America. (Or insert your own country here.)
Want to see how your country's vacation days stack up to other nations around the world? This World Economic Forum chart is from 2016, but it's a good place to start. We'd love your thoughts on where to find a more recent graphic.
If you'd like to learn more about the physical and mental benefits of taking a break and crafting creative habits (or need something to read after Rahaf's book), I (Alicia) lead workshops on the subject. I'm not nearly the expert that she is, but I'd be happy to pass on my (gigantic) list of sources for you to dive into.
The Star Tribune reported that a traveler to Minneapolis, Minnesota apparently did not get artist Simon Weckert's memo that Google Maps is simply a tool, and not an infallible source of information. He was pulled out of the frigid Mississippi River on a cold February morning because he apparently thought the app was telling him to skip the bridge and cross the icy river instead.
What about you?
Do you think location apps make people better or worse navigators?
Do you use location apps like Google Maps when you travel? Why or why not?
Have you ever had a location tool give you the wrong info?
Do you take all of your vacation days?
If you don't use all your vacation days, why not?
What are your most common obstacles to taking time off?
How do you avoid burnout and stay creative?