Developed by the U.S. military, GPS was first opened to civi...

Developed by the U.S. military, GPS was first opened to civilian use in the late 1980s after a commercial Boeing 747, Korean Airlines Flight 007, drifted off course and into prohibited airspace over what was then the USSR, where it was misidentified as military reconnaissance and shot down with no survivors.

Initially, only a degraded version of GPS was made publicly available, with “fuzzed” data that reduced the precision to a few hundred feet. But, as with high-resolution maps in England two centuries earlier, the commercial value of GPS became clear and in 2000, the full precision of less than a foot, and even down to a fraction of an inch under some circumstances, was made available to all users.

I think of these two systems, time and mapping, as the infrastructure for infrastructure. Their growth in extent and precision has paralleled and enabled the infrastructural networks that rely on them. Today, they make up a unified, precise, global system for locating points in time and space that underpins virtually all other forms of technological and social coordination