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Episode 5 of 6

Aleks Krotoski examines what digital mapping has meant for our understanding of the world. Are we always aware of the decisions that make them look the way they do?

Aleks Krotoski examines what digital mapping has meant for our understanding of the world. Are we always aware of the decisions that make them look the way they do? Traditionally of course maps are as "authored" as anything else. As Simon Garfield writer of On the Map: Why the world looks the way it does , explains we should think of maps like the biography of a famous person; highly subjective and usually with some sort of angle.

We hear this authorship at work when we join Bob Egan of PopSpotsNYC; he maps out where famous album cover photos were taken in his native New York and puts them online for us all to visit. We join him on the hunt through Google maps and on the streets as tracks down his latest quarry. Bob is adding his own layer of information to the digital mapping of our world for Dr Mark Graham of the Oxford Internet Institute this is happening all around us.

And it's this phenomenon that makes the understanding of the choices that go into making our maps even more important. We hear about the experience of paleo-anthropologist Prof Lee Berger and how hidden choices in GPS data he was using nearly cost him the most important discovery of his career. Aleks then explores if the so called "open mapping" movement hold the answer to eliminating some of issues created by digital maps with the example of Christchurch recovery map -a crowd sourced map that was created within hours of the Christchurch earth quake of 2012.

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30 minutes


Music Played

Add music you love and enjoy it with My Tracks
  • Sinoia Caves

    Elena's Sound-World

    • Beyond the Black Rainbow.
  • The Dust Brothers

    Hessel Raymond K

    • Fight Club.
  • Ulysses Flashman

    Panda of Gold

    • The procession of Harlots.
  • The Who

    The kids are Alright

    • My Generation.
  • Steely Dan

    Pretzl Logic

    • Pretzl Logic.
  • Judy Collins

    Like a Rolling Stone

    • Judy Sings Dylan ... Just like a Woman.
  • Melody’s Echo Chamber

    Quand Vas tu Rentrer

    • Melody's Echo Chamber.
  • Tunng


    • Comments of the Inner Chorus.
  • Melodium

    I've been there before

    • My Mind is falling to Pieces.

Simon Garfield

Simon Garfield

Simon is the author of ‘On the Map: Why the world looks the way it does’. He explains why a map is not always just a chart of land, but a biography of our past.

Dr. Mark Graham

Dr. Mark Graham

Mark is an Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute and contributor to the Guardian.

He tells us how layers of information are added to maps in the digital age, and explains why some areas of the world are so lacking in information.

Bob Egan

Bob Egan

Bob is the Sherlock Holmes of pop culture. When he isn’t working or writing books, he hunts down the locations where classic album covers were photographed for his website Popspots.

We join Bob as he hunts down the location of ‘Judy Collins Sings Bob Dylan’.

Paula Williams

Paula Williams

Paula is a Senior Map Curator at the National Library of Scotland, with a particular interest in Polar Maps.

She shows us some historical maps, and explains how influential the cartographer’s were in making the map, and why the world seemed so different to people in the past.

Tim McNamara

Tim McNamara

Tim is an independent data scientist, artist and technology writer, who in 2011 created the Christchurch recovery map.

He tells us how he created the map, and what it did to help people affected by the disaster.

Rachel Graham

Rachel Graham

Rachel is a reporter for Radio New Zealand. A resident of Christchurch, she reported on the 2011 earthquake and followed the continuing reconstruction of the city.

She takes us round the city, explaining what it was like in the immediate aftermath of the quake and how much still needs to be done.

Manik Gupta

Manik Gupta

Manik leads Google Ground Truth, a project to build the most accurate and in-depth maps for countries around the world.  

He tells us how Google Maps work to achieve accuracy in a constantly changing world

Professor Lee Berger

Lee is the Reader in Human Evolution and the Public Understanding of Science at the  Institute for Human Evolution, School of GeoSciences, University of the Witwatersrand.

He shares the story of how he almost lost the most important discovery of his carreer due to GPS.


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