Travelers have an intimate relationship with their maps. Our travels are planned on maps, then executed with them, and then commemorated by them. I doubt there’s a serious traveler on the planet who doesn’t have a map or two tucked away somewhere in their home. I’ve got four in my tiny studio apartment, atlases not included: One world map speckled with Sharpie marks noting where I’ve been, one stylized London Tube map, one “Stronger Than the Storm” New Jersey magnet on my fridge, and another Jersey map in pillow form.
And that’s not counting the twenty or so that are piled in a trunk in my parents’ basement. It’s incredible how much maps can do, considering that they are all basically representations of the exact same thing: They display our knowledge of the world, our ignorance of it, our perception of it, and our relationship to it; they can chart our pasts, they can guide our futures, and they can tell us how many fat people live in Ohio. How do they do all of that?
Hank Green, one of a pair of fast-talking, never-breathing, nerd brothers, at least starts to scratch the surface on what maps tell us about ourselves and our worlds, and also manages to drop in an absolute buttload of trivia into an astounding three minutes and forty-four seconds.
- See the world’s most populous circle at 1:13
- All of the world’s daily global flights at 2:28
- Why north is “up” at 3:00
- Why East Asia is called the Orient at 3:12
Once the video is over, you’re going to want to take an online course in cartography.