I just discovered a most productive way to waste time. Earlier this week, Julie mentioned that she didn’t have time to blog because she was rushing to Geosense.net. I hadn’t heard of it before, but curious about Julie’s fun site, I checked it out and spent several hours this morning racing to pinpoint the location of the world’s cities on a projection map.
Playing games makes me feel guilty, but Geosense.net has a redeeming value: I was learning concrete knowledge. Before I started, Jakarta was the only city I knew in Indonesia, and I only had a vague idea that it was located on one of the western islands. Now I can pinpoint Jakarta in 1 second as well as several other Indonesian cities. Thanks to Geosense, there are many other cities I had never heard of, all over the world, that I can now locate on a map. And many cities that I was already familiar with I can now locate with precision. Sydney, New Dehli and Pretoria are further north, for example, and Lillehamer much closer to Oslo, than I had realized.
What surprised me most was the improvement I noticed within only a couple of hours. I have probably spent several hundred hours in my life looking at maps, so it would seem that an additional couple of hours would have a negligible effect on my knowledge of geography. But something about the game’s instant feedback, or the scoring, however, focused my attention on remembering where the cities were in a way my map reading hadn’t.
When I started, I was pleased when my score was over 4500, and within only a couple of hours, a score over 6000 was routine and below 5400 rare. (My top score was 6308, and my lowest ‘error rate’ — the average distance from the city — was 52 kilometers.) These scores show up in the High Scores under my login id of coldsquid.
If you are looking for a productive waste of time, check it out. Feel free to leave comments of your best Geosense scores, or links to other online games that teach real knowledge.