More about Time and Geography

timewarp

Normally San Antonio has a leisurely pace, but with only a few shopping days til Christmas, its been a bit more hectic. Part of the reason we chose to live in San Antonio was for the pace of life. Other places seem more rushed. The recent cold weather also seems to a factor, perhaps triggering some hunter-gatherer hoarding behavior buried in my nordic evolutionary memory.

I wonder if the perception of time is somehow related to latitude? The sense of time doesn’t seem to get much attention from geographers. Which one of our five senses is used for time? How many San Antonio Minutes = one New York Minute?

In his book Lies My Teacher Told Me, James Loewen describes an experiment he conducted in Vermont. This seems like an easily reproducible experiment – very quantitative. He suggests class perceptions are the only factor here, but I think geography (latitude?) is also big factor.

Several years ago, two students of mine provided a demonstration: they drove around Burlington, Vermont, in a big, nearly new, shiny black American car (probably a Lexus would be more appropriate today) and then in a battered ten-year-old subcompact. In each vehicle, when they reached a stoplight and it turned green, they waited until they were honked at before driving on. Motorists averaged less than seven seconds to honk at them in the subcompact, but in the luxury car the students enjoyed 13.2 seconds before anyone honked. Besides providing a good reason to buy a luxury car, this experiment shows how Americans unconsciously grant respect to the educated and successful. Since motorists of all social stations honked at the subcompact more readily, working-class drivers were in a sense disrespecting themselves while deferring to their betters.

VGI Mobile Traffic Cams for Time challenged Parents?
Michael Goodchild writes about where we might be headed:

A third type of sensor network, and in many ways the most interesting, consists of humans themselves, each equipped with some working subset of the five senses and with the intelligence to compile and interpret what they sense, and each free to rove the surface of the planet.

Are we there Yet Daddy?
I think cars as sensors will happen first, specifically as mobile traffic-cams. I don’t think much intelligence will be required to collect the data, and the data will be most valuable when freedom to rove is restricted (i.e. stuck in traffic). It would be great if I could click on a map and get real time video feed from cars ahead on the map I could decide which alternate route to take to the mall. I read somewhere that people often prefer paths that allow them to drive faster instead of paths that get them to their destination slightly sooner. I bet even more so when they have kids in the back seat.

That’s all for now, someone’s honking so I better go.

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1 comment so far

  1. Marly on

    i like it, i found you trough some gis feed. i like this bit of blog! i would really enjoy reading more about time and the relation to geography. i’ll never forget my egyptian guide saying “and now you get 5 minutes picture-time, 5 belgian minutes, not egyption ones!”


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