Maps are on my mind this month, not least thanks to the treasure trove of charts and other cartographic wonders on display at the British Library’s Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line. Two of my favourites from the exhibition were both tourism maps, but each very different from the other. One was for 1950s Alicante, all sunshine and sailing boats; the other was for 1947 Hiroshima, showing in chilling grey the A-bomb impact area.
“Our best way of sharing knowledge – whether it’s a physical representation of land or an energy space variable – it’s a map. Every scientific analysis produces maps or visual plots to look at. That’s the way we intuitively understand the best,” says Naoko Kurahashi Neilson, in Lois Parshley’s article on mapping uncharted territories.
Whether or not they’re the best route to understanding, good maps can certainly be great sense makers – brilliant visual plots for the stories that bring us together, set us apart and spur us on.