Time To Go
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Over the last 250 years, the idea of defining geographic position—what we mean when we say “you are here”—has become inextricably linked to the problem of time. This historical process reached its zenith with the development of GPS, a system that, at its root, is the world’s most powerful clock. Every GPS receiver in the world—whether embedded in a mobile phone or a guided missile—defines its position by measuring the precise transmission time of signals sent by satellites 12,000 miles away. The next time you locate yourself by staring at that blue dot on your phone’s map program, remember—the issue isn’t where, it’s when.
Greg Milner is an author and journalist specializing in technology and culture. His books include Pinpoint: How GPS Is Changing Technology, Culture, and Our Minds and Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Slate, Salon, Time, Wired, Ars Technica, Spin, Blender, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, and The Sunday Times of London. He has also worked as a magazine editor and a speechwriter for the Brooklyn Borough President. A former graduate student in New York University’s Department of Anthropology and Program In Culture and Media, he has exhibited documentary work at the International Festival of Ethnographic Film.