Map monopolies?

Secret maps

Maps to change the world, a century ago and today


The GPS receiver you aren't allowed to use.  (Hint:  It's in your cell phone.)

Spy flights over the farm belt

The Census Bureau's plan to map every household in America

Why street addresses aren't good enough

Do Maps Have Morals?


New pictures of our world

Humans have always needed maps, not just as practical tools for finding their way around, but for their own peace of mind.  Maps help us make sense of the world and find our own place in it.  They reflect reality, and at the same time create it; in our minds, the simplified images become real worlds that shape our thinking and our actions.

In recent years, a novel combination of technologies has transformed map-making, and map-viewing.  They include satellite images of earth, along with rapid access to those images via the Internet, but also the Global Positioning System, which provides a common language of location, worldwide.  Finally, there are techniques for assembling, via computer, data on any phenomena that has a geographic location.  That can be almost anything:  Wildlife habitat; crime; income in particular neighborhoods; real estate development; or political contributions.  One of the most spectacular examples of this, and my personal favorite, is Google Earth.

I became fascinated by this revolution in map-making.  With support from the Sloan Foundation, I started exploring this field and reporting on particular facets of it.  On the left, you can find links to my various map-related stories.


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