By LBx Staff

redarrowsARE YOU A LOVER OF MAPS? IF SO, YOU ARE A CARTOPHILIAC. Do you have a love of place? If so, that’s called topophilia. Are you a student of place names? If so, that makes you a toponymies.

mapheadsmallKen Jennings in MAPHEAD guides you through the wacky, nerdy, and inspiring world of mapping and provides a window into the psyche of a geography wonk. Jennings masterfully connects geographic definitions with the history of mapping and individual quests and adventures, touching on everything from the storytelling role of cartography to the passion around geocaching, and even to concerns about geoslavery. (Geoslavery refers to “the potential threat to our privacy and autonomy that GPS-powered maps might someday pose. If everything you do is geotagged, then everyone always knows where you are—which is awesome if you’re hoping to meet some friends after work for a drink but maybe not so awesome if potential burglars are casing your neighborhood to find out who’s not home, or if you’re dealing with an abusive ex or a child predator or even some stranger who got mad about something you posted online.”)

This book is a treasure trove of mapping trivia. Not surprising as Ken Jennings is a Jeopardy! champion! People that “reason spatially” are different. Some people index things chronologically, while others index the world by location. And that is at the heart of this book.

Jennings discusses information hierarchy where location is the common denomina- tor. He puts location in context of how we under- stand the world and believes that “an informed citizenry has to understand place, not because place is more important that other kinds of knowledge but because it forms the foundation for so much other knowledge.”

Every geography professor complains about the high rate of geo-illiteracy, especially in the United States, combined with the fact that today’s digital kids increasingly live in a world without physical place. He states, “Todays’ kids live increasingly in a world without place—without personal exploration through real-life geographies of any kind.”

But Jennings’ real point is that geog- raphy is not an academic discipline, or a nerdy obsession; it’s a lifestyle. Geography connects the dots between everything from culture, language, history, biology, public health, and urban planning, to everyday questions like “what’s for dinner?” and “where are my friends?”.

What was the biggest promotional giveaway of the twentieth century? What U.S. President turned off “selective availability” for GPS receivers?

Get a copy of MAPHEAD to find the answers, and more…