Google Mapping Kerouac

It is regarded as the seminal book about exploring the American road. I’ve read it three times, and most people I know have read it. I for one can say it was supremely inspirational as a source of both adventure and literary aspiration. I am tracking about On The Road, Jack Kerouac’s magnum opus featuring the character Sal Paradise and his scruffy, incandescent-spirited iconoclast friend Dean Moriarty. It is a wonderful book, but it is still, well, a book. So what about taking On the Road into the Internet age? How might one do that, exactly?

Michael Yessis of Worldhum fame has got an interview with a guy named Michael Hess who has done just that, basically by retracing Sal Paradise’s steps (or stops, as the case may be, since he was, after all, in a car much of the time) during a cross-country roadtrip from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Los Angeles. Hess did the trip with his wife, and launched a project called Littourati in May 2006. And here’s the modern angle: he then decided to plot their (and Paradise’s) westward progress on Google Maps. The project is the product of Hess’s self-professed interest in literature, maps and programming.

It is a cool project, particularly if you are a Kerouac fan (or fanatic), and could serve as a rather cool template for other epic and famous roadtrips (Animal House anyone?).