The Maps They are a Changin’

The more things change…well, the more they change. Like the globe. It’s funny, I still have a bunch of old maps that have the Soviet Union on them. I have no idea whether they’ll be worth something some day, but I marvel at how much they’ve changed over the last 15 years or so. I mean, it’s AMAZING. Lots of name changes, lots of splitting countries in two. And so we have this article that says that the National Geographic Society’s newest edition of its “Atlas of the World”, being released this month, has a record 17,000 updates and editorial changes from its edition five years ago. Consider that number: 17,000. How much is that? In the words of Brian from Monty Python’s Life of Brian when he was asked how much he hated the Romans: “A lot!”

East Timor, our first new nation this century, is mapped for the first time in the latest atlas . Some of the changes reveal how much technology has affected our lives, while actually NOT affecting hordes of our globemates. For example, a map of undersea fibre-optic cables shows a complciated network of cables between Europe and the United States but (alas) a single snaking cable that weaves around the west coast of Africa. A map on Internet hosts paints a similar picture, with Europe, parts of Asia and North America dominating the scene. Analyzing the changes could make up an entire semester of a new Western Civ class.