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Mapping The Might Have Been

The moment you make a map there's a fairly good chance that it will be out of date. There's nothing wrong with this; anyone who works in the cartography or mapping fields will tell you that one of the biggest challenges in making maps is not making the map, it's keeping it up to date once it's made. Geography is constantly moving, changing, flowing thing.

One of the most fascinating aspects of old maps is not so much looking at what's changed since they were made, though that is fascinating enough, but of what might have been but then never was.

Regular readers of this blog may have worked out that out of all the maps there are, my favourite is the London Underground Tube map. A browse through the London Tube Map Archive shows just how much the Tube network has expanded and contracted over the years and how stations have changed not only in name but sometimes in position as well. But some of these maps also show what was planned but which was never realised; as Trent Reznor once put it "all the what abouts, the might have and could have beens". Take a look at this map of the network from 1938.

After Neogeography, Here Comes Neocartography

First there was neogeography, a convenient label for the practice of geography outside of the formally accepted geographical disciplines. A convenient label, but one which caused some controversy and mud slinging with the aforementioned formally accepted disciplines being labelled paleogeography and with a strong emphasis on the pejorative.

So it seems almost inevitable that we now have a proposal from the International Cartographic Association to form a commission on neocartography, looking into the practise of making maps outside of the formally accepted cartography profession.

Happy 30th. Anniversary To The 2nd Computer I Ever Owned

It's 2011 and I'm writing this blog post on an Apple MacBook Pro. It cost in the region of £1500 and comes with a 15" screen, a dual core 2.66 GHz CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 300GB internal hard drive and an internal battery which lasts around 7 hours. It's probably the best laptop I've ever used but it's evolutionary and hardly revolutionary.

Now look back to  30 years ago. The Internet existed, sort of, the World Wide Web didn't, home narrow-band connections were rare and broadband hadn't been invented. But if you had £49.95 to spare you'd be able to buy a small home computer which you plugged into your TV set, used black-and-white graphics only, and came with a 3.26 MHz CPU, 1KB of RAM, no internal storage (you used a cassette tape recorder) and no internal battery (mains power only). Did I mention you also had to assemble and build it yourself? If you weren't so moved, the fully assembled version would set you back £69.95.