Have you ever noticed how real people are useless at giving directions? People you ask are either tourists - or locals. Visitors don't know but don't want to let you down - so they guess. Locals have a very clear idea of how they would get to your intended destination but they are usually lost in their own little world: "Left where the post office used to be; right just past my brother's old house."
Distance is always a problem and this is where real people confirm just how useless they really are at estimation. There are two grades of indistinctness - "not too far", which could be any distance from 1 00 yards to a few miles; or alternatively "Ooh! It's quite a way" (any distance from 100 yards to a few miles).
Signs aren't much better. Sat Navs can find a route to your front door clearly stating expected time of arrival, distance and weather en route, but at the other end of the scale are rural signposts, calibrated using an elastic tape operated by knowledgeable local authority officers who live in the next county and who have probably never been to this road junction. A finger post is likely to point in the direction of the last hurricane, or one quarter revolution back from where it was before the local tractor boy reversed into it.
Ipswich is about to become different however. A new set of master maps and monolith signs produced by AIG (Applied Information Group) are being erected about the same time as this Newsletter reaches you. And these are not just ordinary signs. They are integrated with downloadable apps (applications for your i-phone) so you can take the map with you as you wander beyond sight of the map. There are also paper maps, town plans that are exactly like the maps on the signs, so you don't have to translate numerous symbols. The maps on the monolith are orientated in the direction of travel, so as you approach the sign the top of the map is the way ahead: buildings on the left of the sign are to your left, and important buildings are drawn in 3D so they are instantly recognisable.
The Ipswich Society welcomes the installation of these new signs. Clearly they will be of benefit to tourists but they will also inform locals, highlighting buildings of distinction in the immediate vicinity.
John Norman, Vice-Chairman