Here There Be Crack Whores: Bloggers as Modern Day Cartographers
The last time I visited Washington, DC, I checked out the Exploring the Early Americas exhibit at the Library of Congress. This exhibit–which I swear is far more interesting than it sounds– includes a rather extensive collections of maps dating back to the late 16th century. On one map–the first map of this continent printed on this continent in 1784–I found some unique place descriptions. For example:
-a rock 150 feet high which can be seen from the Cherokee River
-the lands between these rivers are of a most excellent quality
-the Pawnee and a great number of other nations inhabit these plains
And I thought–wouldn’t it be great if we still labeled maps in this fashion? I mean, how helpful would that be? To not just know where you are going–or, with the case of Google Maps, where the nearest sponsored hotel or restaurant is located–but what you will find there? It would look something like this:
You see, during this same trip, I really could have used such a map. Having booked a hotel through a bidding site, I ended up in a really lovely hotel directly north of the Capitol building. But there’s a three-block stretch along D Street that’s, well, not great. As a matter of fact, that same stretch along E Street isn’t fantastic, either. Had I been walking alone at night I would not have felt very comfortable–especially dressed for dinner, emerging from what was clearly a very nice hotel.
If only a properly labeled map existed, so many people could avoid making a similar mistake–or, on a more positive note, could be directed to, say, the really great baklava in an unassuming food court hidden in the basement of the Regan building (again, see poorly-labeled map above).
But then I realized something–in my own small way, I’m attempting to act as a modern day cartographer. Sure, my map labeling skills kind of suck (stealing maps from the internet and editing them in Picasa has its limits) but I’d like to think that I do the same thing with words and photos as cartographers once did with quills and ink. I tell people on journeys where to go, what to look for, and–occasionally–things to avoid. I’m a travel blogger–the cartographer of the 21st century.
Dear readers–if you are a travel blog reader, why do you read travel blogs? For entertainment or for information? Or a combination of the two? And travel blog writers–why do you blog? To inform? To entertain? To make connections? Share in the comments section below.