GPS tracking for the masses

What a cool little GPS data logger device: place it under someone’s bumper, check back in a week and map where they drove.

This is going to put an end to cheating for those geeks that have the money.

Ah yes, as we become more connected the distance between us decreases and time speeds up. Prepare to shed all notions of privacy and self-identity as our transmutation into the global brain approaches the asymptote.

I agree that this is a cool little device, and surely it could be useful for an individual who suspects their significant other is “cheating.” (More on why “cheating” is in quotes to follow.) But it will surely have no impact on anyone who is careful or who is aware of such devices and suspects that there may be one attached to their car. It would be all too easy to simply park in the McDonalds’s parking lot while you enjoy a quickie in the hotel across the street. Or, right there in the car, if you happen to have a van or tinted back windows.

The fact that there is a market for these devices among people who want to catch someone cheating gives a perspective on American culture that cannot be had through the typical channels. Let’s compare this to Japan, where I live. Here, every cell phone produced has what is called “secret mode.” It allows you to have secretly stored contacts which can only be accessed with a password. “Uwaki” is Japanese for “cheating.” It is made up of two kanji characters, which literally translate as “float” and “energy.” The mental associations possible with such a word are a far cry from those of the word “cheating,” which is associated with breaking rules. Of course, those are the rules of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and we know what they say about infidelity. Look at the serious tone of the American TV show “Cheaters,” in which people who suspect their spouses or boy/girlfriends of cheating try to catch them in the act on live TV. The tone of the show is very serious, and there are often very emotional, or even violent confrontations. Is there anything like this in Japan? Why, yes, there is a TV show where they try to catch people cheating. They take young Japanese men, put them in a situation with a hot young chick, and have their girlfriends secretly watch via hidden cameras to see if they fall for the bait. The tone of the program is the exact opposite of “Cheaters.” It is lighthearted, and the girls never fail to laugh when the guy eventually does what comes naturally to him. As far as a show where they try to catch spouses cheating, I haven’t seen anything. The serious and invasive style of cheaters would likely not be accepted by this culture. They tend to value privacy, and they tend to be averse to confrontation. This probably makes for a lousy market for tracking devices.

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