90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
From Astrolabe To GPS: Mapping Our Lives Now

A deep history of maps and navigation, from the ancient Polynesians to the pinpoint GPS on your smart phone now and the pinpoint tracking to come.

In this photo taken Saturday, March 22, 2014, a relative of Chinese passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines, MH370, presents a slideshow showing a map of the route the missing plane took at a hotel meeting room in Beijing, China. The words on top reads "2. About the issue of time." (AP)

In this photo taken Saturday, March 22, 2014, a relative of Chinese passengers aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines, MH370, presents a slideshow showing a map of the route the missing plane took at a hotel meeting room in Beijing, China. The words on top reads “2. About the issue of time.” (AP)

For thousands of years, figuring out the shape of the world – the shape of its oceans, its mountains, the paths of its rivers, the shoals in its seas – was a nearly overwhelming challenge for humans.  We used all kinds of crude maps and early tools to find our way, to know where we were.  Today, we hit the GPS and location is instant.  The terrain is known.  It’s on file.  Now, the tools have turned around to map us.  At every moment of every day.  Often whether we like it or not.  This hour On Point:  tech writer Hiawatha Bray on the great story of maps and navigation, from mapping the Earth to mapping us.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Hiawatha Bray, technology reporter for the Boston Globe. His new book is “You Are Here: From The Compass To GPS, the History and Future of How We Find Ourselves.” (@watha)

David Petersen, vice president of mobile advertising at YP, a search and advertising company. (@djpetersen)

Udi Dagan, founder of Split, the “anti-social” app.

From Tom’s Reading List

Associated Press: Va. professor champions GPS tracking shoes – “The GPS shoe and insole have all sorts of potential ramifications, and the word is spreading. During Super Bowl week, Carle met with the NFL Retired Players Association, many of whose members are believed at risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease.”

Kirkus Review: Review: ‘You Are Here’ -- “Early sailors relied on the wind and waves to get their bearings. In Europe, maps first appeared on Spanish cave walls 14,000 years ago. Today, ‘mankind has essentially solved the problem of location’ due to a remarkable spate of navigational innovation in the 20th century, much of it prompted by the demands of the two world wars.”

Boston Globe: Can Mass. ocean robots help find missing Malaysian jet? – “Can a fleet of undersea robots designed in Massachusetts help solve the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? They’ve done this kind of thing before. In 2011, robot subs from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution tracked down the remains of an Air France plane that had crashed into the Atlantic Ocean two years earlier. Now, the Navy is sending a robot built by Bluefin Robotics Inc. in Quincy to Australia, in the latest effort to track the Malaysian jet.”

Read An Excerpt From “You Are Here” By Hiawatha Bray

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Dec 19, 2014
Alan Gross, waves as he and his wife Judy leave following his statement at his lawyer's office in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Gross was released from Cuba after 5 years in a Cuban prison. (AP)

Cuba reset. Russia’s rubble troubles. School massacre in Pakistan. Jeb explores 2016. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Dec 19, 2014
Soledad, and from left, Nina Pastori, and Lila Downs perform on stage at the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year Tribute honoring Joan Manuel Serrat at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP)

From crossover hits to hip-hop to soul, we look at a big year in the wide world of Latin music.

RECENT
SHOWS
Dec 18, 2014
A poster for the movie "The Interview" is carried away by a worker after being pulled from a display case at a Carmike Cinemas movie theater, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP)

A big Sony hack gets weirder and wider. And Hollywood and Homeland Security are on edge.

 
Dec 18, 2014
This handout photo from the Twitter account of Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. shows Alan Gross arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. The US and Cuba have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations and open economic and travel ties, marking a historic shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island after a half-century of enmity dating back to the Cold War, American officials said Wednesday. (AP)

Following months of secret talks the US will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than fifty years.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: December 19, 2014
Friday, Dec 19, 2014

Rage, shortlinks and things you people seem to be into, we guess. Also, Putin.

More »
Comment
 
Cosby Accuser Beverly Johnson: ‘He's A Black Man. I Had To Separate The Trayvon Martins, The Michael Browns From What Happened To Me’
Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014

Beverly Johnson accused comedian Bill Cosby of drugging her in a high-profile Vanity Fair column. She tells us why she waited so long to share her story, and why it was even harder to share now.

More »
2 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: December 12, 2014
Friday, Dec 12, 2014

On listener engagement, the meeting of trans-Atlantic royalty and the elusive origins of the chicken. (We promise this feed hasn’t been taken over the BBC…yet)

More »
Comment