Meet Steve Hartman's Human GPS

In "Everybody Has a Story," every two weeks someone threw a dart at a map of America. CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman then went wherever it stuck, flipped through the local phone book, and picked a name at random. He then did a story on someone at that house. With the help of space-age technology, Hartman goes global as he concludes, "Everybody in the World has a Story."

After traveling to the four corners of the Earth and then some, our adventure officially ended in a Houston suburb - when I came face to face with the man who has changed my life more than anyone I've never met.

His name is Jeff Williams,and he's the astronaut who you've seen directing me to random locations around the world over the last 2 months.

Scroll down to watch the video.

Using our plastic, inflatable beach-ball globe - the first thing ever allowed into space from a news organization - Jeff sent me to seven different countries on four different continents.

I travelled to exactly where his finger landed, then made a random stab myself -- at the local phone book.

The seven people we met, and the seven stories we found, were a hit with audiences, apparently around the world.

A man on a motorcycle in Bali said, "Hey man, you're the guy who does the thing with the phone book. I love that!"

"A story like yours peels the outside of the onion and gives people a view into real world human life," Williams said.

In fact, Williams says that's why NASA wanted to be part of this project in the first place. Although you don't necessarily think of scientists as humanitarians, he says many of the people who work on the International Space Stationhave gotten to know and formed deep friendships with people they once considered competitors or even adversaries.

When Williams returned to Earth recently, it wasn't in the space shuttle. He landed with a Soyuz crew in Kazakhstan -- where he was welcomed back like a fellow comrade.

"Of course it's all in Russian but they're saying, 'great job, welcome back, good to see you'," Williams said.

Our very different journeys have led us to very similar conclusions.

We agreed that even though I've been looking at a microcosm of the world, and he's been focused on a much broader view, you really can't go through either experience without coming home to a new definition of home.

"In a very real sense, the planet becomes home," Williams said. "Also, as you travel around the Earth and see the evidence of civilization, you start to become a little more aware that people are basically the same all around the world."

As for the inflatable globe, Williams returned it to me.

With one last spin of the inflatable globe, Williams suggested we go to - the North Pole.

"Maybe we should go together to there," Williams said. "Let's go in the summertime, maybe."

Read Steve Hartman's Travel Blogs:
Meeting a Panda in China
Police Keep Watchful Eye in Chengdu, China
Camel Bites Steve Hartman in Australia
Meeting Shy Aboriginals in Australia's Outback
Headed Down a Dirt Road, With No Road Maps
Halfway Around the World in Four Days
Looking for a Story in Cordoba, Argentina
Everybody in the World Has a Story, Round 2

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.