Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The One to One map

I like maps. Wherever I go, I always like to get hold of a local map to see where things are in relation to each other, something that's not always easy to visualise when you're just looking round a strange country.

The scale used is obviously important, but some things on a map are not to scale - the width of roads on a national atlas is the obvious example. Even looking at local area ones, that same measure can be misleading. On a UK road atlas, you see a road marked as an A road and a newcomer might assume that it's a major route, multi-lane, high speed, free of traffic lights, etc. Then you actually travel on the road and realise it could be a road through London where average speed is 10 mph. In contrast, you could see a single thin line leading out from the thick green line of the US Interstate, then find yourself on another six lane dual carriageway ... driving up and down the highway looking for an exit ... you can see your destination, but just can't get to it. Sorry, I digress.

But an ideal scale would surely be one to one. When I was about seven years old, I remember reading of such a map in a fictional story, at that age I was probably reading Norman Hunter rather than Luis Borges; anyway the map could never be unwrapped because it would cover the entire country. So clearly an impossible dream.

However, today, combine GoogleMaps with SatNav, we're just about there.

No comments: