That we take technology for granted is a fact we take for granted. Unlock that flashy smartphone, navigate your bloated American thumb to the map app, and millennia of man’s navigation efforts appear before your very eyes. On the Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way the World Looks ($17) by Simon Garfield (author of the New York Times bestseller Just My Type) dissects the modern day map from design to perspective and every element in between.
No facet is left unexplored: Ptolemy, Columbus, Louis and Clark, even Grand Theft Auto all have left their mark, or been inspired by, the map. When conventional wisdom told scholars that Earth was the center of the Universe, Garfield notes, maps were generally drawn with London, or the cartographer’s country of origin, at the center. Today’s smart-phone orients your current position to the center of the map, making you the master of your own universe and unofficially confirming our suspicions about technology’s post-modern bent.