I visited the ‘Magnificent Maps’ exhibition at The British Library a couple of weeks ago. It contained so many colourful, imaginative and impressive hand drawn maps covering social, historical and political aspects of life. The creativity that went into these maps was fantastic. My particular favourites were a Chinese terrain map on silk (1700), an Eastern European map from 1896 showing scenes from daily life and The Tsarist octopus map (1877).
(Photo by Annie Mole, Flickr)
The British Library also made great use of technology, by projecting a couple of the maps onto table tops and giving users what looked like a magnifying glass to explore the map in more detail. One of the maps was a reproduction of Fra Mauro’s Mappa Mundi from the 1450s. The magnifying glass didn’t have a lens, but when you placed it over certain parts of the map it expanded the image via the projector. It may have been RFID enabled, but I’m not certain. If you highlighted specific parts of the map it would also give you a pop up box of information and a voice-over would explain the significance. It was a really clever way of giving a bit more of a background to the map and what it meant. You can have a look at the map here and explore it in a similar way to the map at the exhibition.
It was just really interesting to see all the creative things people have done with maps over the years and it’s given me a few ideas about what you can do with digital maps, rather than just putting markers on them and adding a bit of text.