One of the major failings of learning geography or history, at least as experienced in classrooms, is the inability to get a genuine sense of place as an actor in the story.
If you’ve never been to Washington, D.C., it’s hard to get a sense of the scale of the place, and why the city is situated where it is. Or, if you’ve never travelled through the swamps of South Carolina, it’s hard to imagine the difficulties the armies faced in simple logistics, moving through this harsh and challenging terrain, during the American Revolutionary War.
This week, we’ve been reminded of the vast distances between where we live, and the far-flung reaches of the outer edge of our solar system. Even traveling 30,000 miles per hour, it took the New Horizons spacecraft ten years to reach Pluto… and it has been only in the past week that Pluto has become for us, for the first time in history, a place.
I’ve worked remotely on projects, often for years at a time. It was a successful model for me as a developer. But it is still a model with a very serious drawback – it’s inability to transcribe place as a component in how business actually happens.
Our presence allows us to experience serendipity – unplanned, unexpected, and spontaneous discovery – that aids in our understanding of all that a place is.
If we could send actual geologists to any of the planets, they would discover more in 30 minutes time, than all the robotic explorers we can send in the next 100 years could ever suss out.
There’s a value in being there, that can’t be replicated through technology.
It’s more than sensory.
Being there is often the difference between totally “getting it”, or missing understanding altogether.
Go, and be you.