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Inner Navigation: Why We Get Lost and How We Find Our Way Paperback – August 1, 2007
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Jonsson begins first half of the book explaining how the human (and possibly animal) navigation system works. There is no complex neuroscience involve, simply what we are thinking in a subconscious level. We have a dead reckoning system that tells us where we are and works in combination with a direction frame that tells us the relative direction of our destination. Both of these senses are centered around a cognitive map and are updated by landmarks or other environmental cues. Johnson provides various examples to give these functions some context.
Next, Jonsson gives many examples of navigation skills that work extraordinarily well in natives who can travel miles in a barren landscape and accurately point to the direction of their camp, without hesitation. He offers an intuitive explanation as to how these miraculous orientation skills work. The majority of the book focuses on what happens when people with good navigational skills get lost. They can walk in circles or have a slip in their directional frame that turns their cognitive map 180 degrees. The many anecdotes offer support for Jonsson's theories. The book ends with how aging effects navigation.
Style and Structure
The writing style of the book is unassuming and down to earth.Read more ›
Part 1) "Cognitive Maps". When you are in an area for the first time, your mind generates a "cognitive map" of the area. Basically, it's a map, in your mind. Okay, now repeat that concept about 800 times, and that's the first half of the book.
Part 2) Stories about getting lost. Occasionally, people who are generally good with directions get lost, and it freaks them out. Every story told is an example of that same exact point, and there are a lot of them. Some of the stories are interesting just because they are stories; virtually none of them (past the first couple) are insightful.
In all seriousness, there are only a couple of insights brought up in the book. Instead of expanding upon them and approaching the insights from different perspectives or angles, they are repeated over and over and over, just bashing the reader over the head. And as the book is designed for non-scientists, the points are very vaguely described in a very I-just-made-this-idea-up fashion.
This book would have been much more effective as a short essay, because the content just isn't there. Probably it got turned around somewhere in France due to a few sunless days....
In the forward, written by noted cognitive scientist and Apple Fellow Donald Norman we find out that the author, Erik Jonsson is the kind of person who takes extension courses at the local college in order to better understand himself and the world he lives in. While taking such courses he meets Prof. Norman who encourages Jonsson to turn his essays into this book.
Jonsson begins with his personal experience while hiking or traveling. He relates that he creates cognitive maps based on feature in the environment, but more importantly he discusses confusion errors and how they create a sense of disorientation, only to be suddenly reversed when some new factor comes into account. This is something that I can relate to. I live in Toronto where "Lake" is "South", but when I visit downtown Chicago I intuitively use this rule and often get lost - unless I actively realize that Lake Michigan is to the North and consciously sort out left/right/east/west. Similarly on a loopback trail just this past weekend I experienced a sense of disorientation trying to get back to the trail head until I recognized a pair of trees as I approached them from the opposite direction and understood where I was in terms the the route and the last two minor trail crossings.
The book is rich in other examples. Jonsson looks at the literature and discussed the problems of navigating in the Sahara or of using the prevailing winds to find one's way in the Arctic.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I borrowed this book from the library and I'm glad I didn't actually buy it.
While there are some interesting point in it, those points could have been brought up and... Read more