Old Mapping Alternatives and New Metaphors, Please

Some curious alternatives and conscious decisions made around map materials. When do we chose the local tourist map that has down-res’d nonessential features and up-res’d features more on the mind of weekenders, such as the location of airport, town squares, likely museums and sites? How do the fancy digital alternatives — a nearby iPhone with a really slick Google Maps interface — pale in comparison, and falter in their real navi utility? When is paper — which can be marked up, annotated, maintain its tangibility and foldability and non-battery-failability and non-data-roam-chargeability? Just paper.

Have a look at Aaron Cope’s paperMMap and other work in tangible, hybrid (digital-physical) cartography. I think this is exciting, mostly because maps and cartography may be on of the good, early connectors that laminate physical-digital thinking. We need better metaphors to capture the ambiguities between the physical and the digital — even writing them right there makes me anxious. The distinctions are quite arbitrary and I think “we” pioneers living in the near future would be doing a great thing to evolve the metaphors and language to point toward new hybrid realities. First to go? Second Life. Ahhem.. What a horrid name that might be tractable to the everyday notion of online/offline, but ignoring “1st Life” the way that Virtual Reality tried to do really does a disservice to the relevance and final import of the world in which we will ultimately be buried within, Timothy Leary’s insertion into an eToy USB drive notwithstanding.

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