I just finished reading The Mapmakers (Amazon US, UK) by John Noble Wilford which was wonderful. The two aspects that fascinated me most: The simple acts of triangulating and measuring the world in order to capture it on paper, from objects to geometry to images. And the increasing knowledge cartographers gathered over the centuries, making the process of mapping more accurate and far more complicated. It’s a great read, only suffering from a severe lack of relevant illustrations. I’d love to read more about cartography, but most of the books on Amazon seem to be either more historical works or complicated sounding academic tomes. I think I’m looking for something in between; more technical than The Mapmakers but not so technical I can’t understand it.
Reading about mapmakers charting regions of the world for the first time made me realise what fundamental knowledge maps represent. It’s easy to take for granted that there are many maps available of where you live, but accurate maps are vital for so many basic societal functions. I kept finding myself becoming increasingly annoyed that the Ordnance Survey’s mapping data of the UK isn’t free for anyone to use (as Jo Walsh discusses). Keeping descriptions of the land we live in proprietary seems insanely wrong. It makes me want to dedicate years to generating an open source map of London on my own.