Have you ever wondered what it would be like not having access to a map? Yes you may know your route to work by heart or where your favorite restaurants are located from the top of your head. But what if you had to go where you never been before without any access to a map?
One of the earliest surviving maps in existence is the Babylonian World Map, made around 600 BCE. The map was engraved on rock. On the map, Babylonian was in the center surrounded by a circular landmass, representing different cities. It was a very bias map, omitting people such as the Persians and Egyptians. A map you would not necessarily use to find a attraction in a foreign city. As the centuries progressed, many cartographers come into existence, adding new landmasses and reorganizing how we view the world. The maps created was comparable to Pangaea with Europe, Africa, and China owning a third of the land each. Keeping true to the belief that the Earth was flat.
Not until the 17th century would we see the almost modern map we are used to today. The Theatrum Orbis Terrarum( Theatre of the World) is known as the first true atlas of the world. Maps continued to become more accurate and full as cartographers continued to provide update to the existing atlas. What is really fascinating is that only a few people had their hands on a map. It wasn’t until advancements in mechanical devices, such as the printing-press, allowed maps to be reproduced with ease. The world must have been seen infinitely large as new places were added. It was until the 21st century, when maps would become virtual.
Here’s a great article explaining the history of maps: Evolution of the World Map
With all the driving everyone was doing, being able to find places with ease became important. Having to open a paper map or rely on someone else’s direction’s was a hassle. Why not just plug in a address and have the route just appear. That was when Google took the initiative to build a . Starting of as a online word search engine, it made sense that Google would create virtual maps for people to search locations on. You would get the route from the search engine( which provided a visual path and word for word directions on screen) for you to copy it down or print it out. It was very convenient than opening a large paper map.
GPS (Global Positioning System), was another upgrade for the car. A simple device you mount on your front windshield, allowing you to focus more on driving. Then the smartphone era began, allowing you to download GPS on your phone. With the massive amount of data collected and a dedicated team behind Google Maps, anyone anywhere can find their way from point A to point B. You can pull up walking routes, car routes, and even bus routes to reach your destination. To make mapping even more efficient, Google created it’s own autonomous car to traverse the globe. This project upped the resolution in Google Maps, providing people street-level view of the of the world. Which I’m sure many has searched up their own home addresses for street-view.
I wouldn’t know where I would be without creative minds working on mapping the world. Probably in the Pacific Ocean or without mobile network connection. The history of mapping is a long one with many great contributors. As human knowledge of the world grows, map graphing will evolve to fit the modern day. Now I don’t have to open up a great big pre-historic stone map, as my father once did, to navigate the globe. I have my PDA for that.
What do you believe will be the next update to maps?
As always, from Around Your Screen