15th April, 2024
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Map Reading is Becoming a Dying Art

When I was a kid, having just entered high school, one of my favourite books to read was the Sydney street directory. I had just recently moved to Sydney, with my two sisters and mother, so this probably played a part in this – I wanted to learn about my new surroundings.

Photo taken of a page from the 36th edition of the Melway street directory.

As I grew up, my interest in maps never disappeared. I began putting maps up on my bedroom walls, much to my mother’s irritation – the Blu-Tack I used, to stick the maps to the walls, had a habit of pulling off the wallpaper, whenever I pulled down a map to replace it wit another. Maps are wonderful things, opening our new horizons.

A photo taken of Hema’s Great Britain & Ireland map, centred on Manchester.

In today’s world, we have sat navs, Google Maps, and other electronic formats. However, these lack the character of a paper map. Sure, they do have their places. Sat navs can get you from A to B, but it lacks the ‘big picture’ feel of a map or street directory. And Google Maps have made plotting a course way too easy.

The more reliant we’ve become, on these useful tools, we’ve begun to lose the simple art of reading a map. Don’t get me wrong – I really do like those technologies. But a map will never need recharging due to a flat battery. They also encourage you to explore, rather than being directed. The planning of my round the world trip has caused my map library to dramatically grow.

A photo of the Nepal GeoCenter Map, centred around Kathmandu.

Do you still use maps for your planning – whether it’s just to get from one side of your city to the other, or to cross  a country or two?

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