Monday, July 9, 2012

To the ends of the earth

My partner has recently acquired a couple of new books that might be of interest to steampunk afficionados. The one pictured, To the Ends of the Earth: 100 Maps that Changed the World (Harper Collins, 2006) is a beautifully illustrated history of cartography from Babylonian clay tablets to 21st-century interactive virtual maps.

Looking at the maps of past ages makes me nostalgic for times when the world was still there to be explored; when dragons and sea monsters might feasibly have lurked behind the next mountain range or in the depths of a vast and uncharted sea. These days, with cameras everywhere accumulating data and satellites giving precise locations of everything on Earth, some of the magic is gone.

As author Jeremy Harwood says:
The electronic linking of such maps to other maps means that the amount of information that can be accessed is almost limitless. The availability of downloadable map data also means that today's mapmakers are spoilt for choice. Put at its simplest, provided that they possess the necessary software and skills, everyone who wants to can be a mapmaker.

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