Historically, mapping has produced beautiful maps, almost works of art. And along the way, they tend to reveal more about the ideas and ideology of the cartographer on the pure, hard reality of the territories it purports to describe.
As a child, and like many other boys of my age, I loved to analyzethe maps of the world in detail .
My family spent summer vacations on the coast of Dorset, southern England, and on the walls of the house where we were staying was a framed map of the official agency mapping Britain, Ordance Survey (OS) of 1963.
When it rained-which happens, unfortunately, quite often in the summer Englishman I used to scrutinize that map in black and white, marveling at its complex system of marks and symbols.
Even today, when I walk in the field, I like to take with me a map OS Explorer.
The classic maps are more reliable than smartphone apps, which often run out of battery or lose the signal.
This is what happens with maps: if they were produced correctly, seem objective and reliable, scientific tools that allow us to orient ourselves in the world.
Indeed, Ordance Survey, the agency most famous UK maps, still proud to be as complete and accurate as possible.
The company has evolved into a large digital power with a huge database of geospatial information.
All these maps are produced by the OS Master Map of Britain, which has more than 460 million geographic data, constantly updated ‘More than 10,000 times a day – by a team of 270 surveyors , using GPS technology.
“We examined data with pinpoint accuracy,” he told BBC OS sector manager, Elaine Owen. “Our map database is the basis of more detailed and sophisticated geospatial data world.”
However, a new book-map, “Exploring the World” published by Phaidon later this month, supports abundant examples the idea that the maps are not as reliable and objective as we tend to think.
Indeed, this is what happens with historical maps, many of which are beautiful works of art, but often reveal more about their cartographers on the areas that supposedly documented.
For example, the medieval world maps usually placed Jerusalem at the center, reflecting the spiritual significance of Christianity during that time.
A famous world map of Hereford Cathedral, west of England, dating from 1300, is a classic example of this trend.
Instead, the excellent map surveyor William Smith of the geological formation of England, Scotland and Wales since 1815, was motivated by a different impulse.
After decades of excavation, Smith was quite skeptical about religious explanations of the formation of rocks and fossils, so he felt obliged to create the first geological map of a country in the world .
Outlining rock layers with 20 dyes applied by hand, your map anticipated the way in which science would challenge the fundamental principles of Christianity during the nineteenth century.
There are countless examples of maps that are impregnated with particular cultures , such as maps suits of the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific, a sea charts consisting of a network of shells and sticks to record the location of the islands, sea currents and waves.
In addition, there is the map of Chukchi Sealskin, 1870, which is now in the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford.