My co-workers all announced they "have no sense of direction." I do have a sense of direction. Though I knew we were going astray, I also didn't want to interfere with the others perfectly adequate form of route finding, so I stayed out of the discussion. I would not have been able to explain why I had a different perception of where we were.
In the New York Times, Julia Frankenstein explored some scientists' conclusion that the availability of GPS is changing how we create mental patterns, mental spacial maps.
She says the remedy for what we are losing is that same as in most forms of physical activity: "practice."
I suspect that the reason I have a highly developed "sense of direction" is that I thrive on practice. I've been known to drive around unfamiliar cities simply collecting a sense of how the place is ordered, for the fun of it. For whatever reason, this is one of my delights.
For many people, mental mapping may be becoming an obsolete exercise. I'd be sad to lose this pleasure, but it may seem less valuable to those who've never developed it. This is a reminder from daily life that we are changed by our technology and environment, changed more rapidly and more significantly than we might imagine.