The Silent Cartographer

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Navigation systems have become almost second nature in our lives. They are practically standard on all new vehicles, and with most of the world’s population having a miniature super-computer (read: Smartphone) in their pocket, there is almost limitless opportunity to be assisted with directions.The whole use of a paper map is romantic. It is nostalgic. It is the spirit of adventure. All that is lost with GPS—and the nagging voice telling you to turn left in 1,000 feet. Why do we do this to ourselves? We have every opportunity to crack open the Rand-McNally and find our own path. After all, it was not that long ago that that was the way we adventured—it is easily forgotten that the normalcy of GPS is a very recent thing.

Map making is an art form that is nine millennia old, with it being refined to our modern interpretation of maps as soon as 4,000 years ago. The earliest maps were manually constructed from parchment and brushes, which meant that they varied in quality and were extremely limited in quantity and therefore valuable. With the advent of the industrial revolution and magnetic devices, such as compasses, maps changed and improved greatly. Suddenly, maps were in mass production and the ability to explore exploded.

Once the technology age was upon us with the help of satellites and computers, there was no stone unturned on this planet, and eventually our eyes turned towards the stars and we started mapping beyond earth.

Today, a map is a simple google search away or asking Siri how to get somewhere. Do you think all of this technology has made us better or worse explorers? There are many who argue that the only true way to adventure is to get lost. Others say that simply having a reason to go is how adventure will find you.

What do you use? Paper or tech? Let us know in the comments below. If you’d like to know more about map making, type Maps into your search bar.

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