Maria Popova shares some pages from an enchanting Sixties-era British schoolbook about maps and globes (the above image is an excerpt). She muses:
But besides the educational value and the sheer vintage gorgeousness of the artwork, these illustrations also remind us of what we’ve lost along with everything we’ve gained in the past half-century of technological progress — the pride in telling direction just by your shadow in the sun, the awe of gazing at the night sky and knowing that you share the North Star with millennia of fellow explorers, or even the simple joy of spinning a globe with your index finger. (Whatever happened to globes, anyway?)
How true is this, I wonder? It strikes me that I haven’t seen a globe in a while. Have they gone away, another dead medium? (I used to own a globe. What happened to it? I don’t even remember discarding it. I hope that I, like some weary Atlas, heaved it manfully into a landfill.)
Do they still have globes in elementary school classrooms, or have they been replaced by Google Earth?
We rely on (flat) maps a lot more now, but, condensed onto diminutive screens, they reveal to us ever less of the world, and they often situate us at the center of things — a pleasant, pre-Copernican illusion. Maps have become more directional, less geographic — certainly less evocative. I don’t know, but I wonder if that changes the way people imagine the world and their place in it.