Many centuries have gone by and many seas have been sailed since the earliest known maps were first marked onto cave walls in 16,500 BC. The smudged symbols of a bygone era might be less ubiquitous in today’s maps than a certain blue dot, but the purpose hasn’t changed. Maps guide us, inspire us, and teach us about the world we live in. Read on for just a handful of reasons why paper maps are still important.
Maps help you see what is around you.
If you only see what the blue arrow wants you to see, you’re suffering from tunnel vision. Knowing what’s nearby makes us feel more comfortable in our surroundings. You might discover there’s a beautiful lake nearby, or a cycle-friendly route you weren’t aware of. Open your world!
Maps help you see where you’re going, where you are and where you’ve been.
Life’s a journey, right? From the moment we are born we are in a permanent process of transformation. Visualising where we’ve been allows us to envision where we are going, and therefore picture our current place in the world. Maps act as documents of our own paths, lighting our way and preserving our memories.
They illustrate topographical details, such as mountain ranges and sea depths.
It’s hard to get a sense of how high a mountain is, or what’s underneath our feet from a tiny screen. This is where cartography really becomes an art, as mapmakers condense an extraordinary amount of data into a visual sign that is as simple as it is beautiful. It’s amazing how much information is hidden in each millimetre of the page.
They remind us we are all living on the same planet.
With the current social, economic and political climate, it’s easy to believe our world is ruptured. That we’re too different. That we should focus on issues closer to home. But spend a bit of time looking at the shapes that make up the Earth’s landmasses, and you’ll notice they tessellate. Wherever we may be, we are all citizens of the world.
They inspire us to stay curious.
In need of inspiration? A change of scene can help us gain valuable perspective and learn something about ourselves through the lives of others. There is little more satisfying than pouring over a map, pointing to a place you’ve never heard of and plotting your next adventure. Never stop learning.
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