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Maps as culture and science

Maps are art, historical windows, and a good way of figuring out where in the world you are. Lifted from the BBC News:

Maps tell us so much more than how to get from A to B, or where C is in relation to D. They can be tools of power and snapshots of history, and reveal the fears and prejudices of their age, says historian Jerry Brotton.

A remarkable things about maps is people’s resistance to the most basic fact of mapmaking – they can never be completely objective, accurate images of our world.

Talk to any mapmaker and they will tell you that the mathematics of mapping the globe onto a flat piece of paper mean that some form of distortion, manipulation and selection will always occur because, to put it simply, you cannot square the circle.

But for most people who use maps in their everyday lives – on sat navs, phones, online map applications, even the good old-fashioned Ordnance Survey – the idea that maps are partial, selective images of the world is extremely unsettling.

Read the full story…



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.

One thought on “Maps as culture and science

  1. Maps are totally interesting. They’ve changed the world — not only logistically, but also culturally. As a bird’s-eye view of the world, they are a perfect blend of art and science.

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