Category Archive for: ‘mapping’

Is it possible to get as excited about pencils as it is about 2 gigahertz intel dual core mobile processors with 2GB DDR2 multitasking memory capability?

Or, Why Can’t I Just Go to the Dollar Store and Grab a Six-Color Box of Rosearts?

Written for History 615: History and Cartography: freehand map assignment

I miss the September ritual of buying notebooks, pens and pencils for a new school year.  These days I’m organically united with my computer and hyperventilate if no wireless internet is nearby, but putting a new entry into Zotero doesn’t inspire quite the same anticipation as an empty, college-ruled, three-subject spiral and a newly-sharpened number 2 Faber-Castell with my name stamped on it.  Forget that the writing utensils got lost, covers came off the notebooks, and I couldn’t read my own handwriting after the third day.

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So, what is an historical atlas anyway?

It seems a fair question.  An amazing number of historical geographers (and historians interested in maps) begin books and articles with the basic question, "What is a map?" undoubtedly to clarify that it is a multi-faceted, interdisciplinary object:  image, document, artifact, artwork, a product of history, art, geography, and science, and must be read and researched in multiple contexts. Those contexts, include (but are not limited to) mapmakers themselves, their patrons, authors, and sometimes, intended audience. Maps are not objective representations, but selective interpretive visualizations.

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