why I love Google Street View

Yesterday’s trip went well.  I did indeed head library/cafewards initially – spilling out some words in my well weathered notebook, and having a quick peruse in the library itself before heading off for my ‘appointment’. It was great talking to the two pregnancy centre workers – I find on-the-scene research really makes a subject come alive, and gives me the opportunity to meet new people too – we got on very well and I went away very glad to have made contact with such lovely people.

Of course all this entailed knowing where I was going. It was in fact on a bus route of one I already take frequently – it just went beyond the point where I usually got off. This is the classic problem I have always had with buses – knowing where to get off. You may know where it is on a map, but guessing it from the seat of a bus is quite another thing. This is why I love Google Street View. I get an advance glimpse of where I’m heading – not merely of road names on a map but the pizza places, shops, pedestrian crossings that all act as markers. I could tell, for example, that if I passed McDonald’s I had gone too far – I’d need to get off at the next stop and backtrack.

And I need more than one marker. There is more than one set of traffic lights or traffic islands on a journey.  I need several backups – things that put the scene in context, let me know where I am in relation to my goal – and in relation to the other markers.

Uh oh.  Analogy approaching.

Sometimes we only use one marker in our patterns of thought and interpretation. We hurtle down the road thinking we’re going in the right direction – aha!  Metaphorical weeping willow on right!  But we forget to look at the other markers which define the context, put things in a different light, show us another, better approach. Plus we forget that different people use different markers – different associations, memories, worldviews (street views?!). We can’t understand why we’ve landed at such a different place.

I need to know what markers are there to tell me when to get off the bus. But I need to practise spotting them in life too – whether when reading the written word, listening to a conversation or a quiet confidence, understanding that there is usually more than one point of reference. If I forget to look for others, I usually misunderstand – I get off at the wrong stop and can’t work out why.

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