Getting Smarter About Ourselves

About four years ago, stuck for an idea for a Christmas gift, I seriously considered buying a personal navigation device, one of those handheld GPS tools that for a time topped many “What’s Cool” lists and held the imagination of gadget aficionados. I never have been one of those types, but I needed something clever and memorable for a loved one, and the marketing jingle — a beguiling review of all the device’s marvelous features, sung to the Carol of the Bells — had me almost convinced that would do the trick. Now it turns out that GPS devices were just another momentary technical marvel, a casualty in the subsequent rise of smartphones and their app-driven multi-functionality. People don’t need a separate gadget when that computer in their hands has…


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