Thursday, September 13, 2007

mapping loss

The Times has this article on the new nature of mapping in a world of hyper change. Mapmakers have long been come accustomed to the ever shifting borders of post-colonial and post- Soviet states along with the lessoning addition to the new "discoveries". Lately there is a new challenge, keeping maps current with the changes wrought through environmental degeneration. Above is a picture of the Aral Sea from 1967 on the left and the current view on the right. It's an alarming change that parallels the radical changes in the arctic. At least in the case of the Aral Sea, steps are being taken to make up for bad engineering policies of the past, most sites like this are not that lucky. I can only wonder at what a map of West Virginia might look like in a few years after recent coal legislation is implemented accelerating the practice of "mountain topping".

Map makers certainly have their work cut out for them. Just as we reach a point where most of the world seemingly has been mapped, we essentially now have go back and re-present everything altered during the same period of the initial discoveries. That is an interesting and saddening reality. The notion that the "map is not the territory" has a new dimension it seems.

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