Volunteers wanted for research interviews!

31 May

WHERE AM I? SHARING STORIES OF BEING LOST AND FOUND.

 

Everyone has a story about a time when they’ve gotten lost. In fact, probably many stories. Getting lost, and finding your way again, seems to be an important part of how we learn about the places we visit in our everyday travels.

If I asked you to recall a time in your own life when you got lost, you would probably immediately think of one when emotions ran high. You might have felt confused as you tried to find particular room in a multi-story University building; panicked as your GPS directed you to cross 3 lanes of heavy traffic; or maybe you’d recall an in-car argument with your partner about where you needed to turn off. For me, I immediately think of one fateful night when my Google Maps GPS guided me the wrong way down a busy one-way street outside Tempe Velodrome in Sydney, forcing me to do a hasty u-turn as cars approached at 70km/hr. It’s safe to say I won’t be forgetting that intersection any time soon!

Or perhaps if I asked you about when you’ve been lost you might think of something a little different. Maybe a time when you got lost in a new part of town and discovered new places. Maybe a time when you proudly and successfully navigated the public transport system in a foreign country. Getting lost can be part of happy memories too.

For better or for worse, experiences of being lost can stick vividly in our memories and change the way we feel about particular places forever. And it seems these experiences have only intensified as new technologies – namely GPS and smartphones – have become such a critical aspect of our everyday navigation.

In fact, there has been much debate online as to whether GPS devices actually help or hinder us as we move around. In 2014, WIRED.com wrote an article celebrating: “25 years of not getting lost thanks to GPS”, suggesting that in the future people won’t need to worry about getting lost thanks to the widespread use and increasing accuracy of GPS. Yet, we don’t have to look far to find evidence that this not might be the case. My own memory of facing oncoming traffic in Sydney assures me it’s not that simple. There are numerous other examples in the popular media where people have followed GPS advice and become lost (leading them to both new and exciting experiences, and potentially dangerous situations).

So whilst the experiences of feeling lost (and found again) seem to be something we can all relate to, these stories remain largely unheard in the academic world, particularly when talking about everyday mobility. My PhD research project looks to share stories of when people have felt both lost and found, the emotions of these experiences, and how people use GPS devices and smartphones when navigating their everyday lives.

If you are interested in sharing your stories, I am seeking adults (aged 18 years+) from the Newcastle area to participate in an interview. I am interested in speaking to both existing residents as well as people who may be new to the Newcastle area. I am looking for participants who own/use a GPS and/or smartphone to assist their navigation. I am also interested in speaking to University of Newcastle staff and students about their experiences at Callaghan Campus more specifically.

If you are interested in participating, or would like more information, please contact ainsley.hughes@uon.edu.au or 0413533150.

 

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