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Book Review: You Are Here

September 13, 2010

I just finished Colin Ellard’s You Are Here: Why We Can Find Our Way to the Moon, but Get Lost in the Mall [amazon]. It makes a decent read, although I was expecting something a little more like this article over at Slate about wayfinding in the context of architecture or urban planning. Instead I got a highly-interdisciplinary work that started with some incredible stories about navigation in bumblebees (as well as the expected ‘rats in the mazes’). We do get a pretty good discussion about some of the tools that people use to navigate spaces (as well as a long discussion of why we’re so bad at it), but Ellard sounds a bit too much like Al Gore for my taste when he suggests that the solution for our wayfinding problems is to spend more time outdoors.

Overall this was a great extremely well-researched book. It is very evident that Ellard is far and away a subject matter expert in this field. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for (or what I expected from the picture of a GPS on the front cover), and it’s not going to find its way onto my all-time favorite books list, but it has certainly earned a solid three-star rating.

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