“To portray meaningful relationships for a complex, three-­dimensional world on a flat sheet of paper or a video screen, a map must distort reality … [A] single map is but one of an indefinitely large number of maps that might be produced for the same situation or from the same data …” 

Mark Monmonier, How to Lie with Maps 

In the future, the young tell your memories back to you, and you listen. If you try to tell them about a sunny day in spring when you were 15 they immediately look it up and say no, it was raining that day, not sunny. Remember? After a while you learn to be quiet and let them tell it. You can say, “What was my birthday like?” They type it in, and within seconds they have a report: When you were six your mother invited your two best friends for a little party in the kitchen. There was sabzi and roti and raspberry cake. You got a doll. Here is a picture of you holding it; here is a video of you opening the box. They are not conscious of the things they can’t see, or why those things matter. You remember that doll’s dress as green instead of blue, because when you were that age your mother had a green dress with the same kind of lace collar as the doll’s. She loved that dress and wore it often, and consequently you loved it as well. No, no, the doll’s dress was blue, they will tell you, and they are right, but they can’t feel what you feel, that little echo of your mother’s dress, that little echo of your love for your mother, attached to your doll. The way you carried that doll everywhere until it was gray, and the dress was rags—that, they can tell you about, but they never really understand why. 

It’s the same when they look back at men, which they do all the time, endlessly fascinated: men in the wild! They can watch your father hold you on his lap; they can even catch a whiff of his roast-beef-and-cigarettes smell, though they have never seen a real cigarette and the smell confuses them. But they can’t feel him, the incredible tenderness and patience of the way he taught you to make a proper cup of tea or drive a car, the strength of his body and the exhaustion of it after a long day of work. They say he seems like a good father, but to them it’s all academic. How many minutes per day he spent with you. How many books he read to you. How many decibels his voice rose when he was angry. None of the important stuff. 

There is so much information. Photographs, videos, receipts, social media posts, medical records, school transcripts, search histories. Quizzes to find out which character you most resemble from television shows that ended decades before any of them were born. Conversations stealthily recorded by smart speakers or electronic toys. And that’s before you add in the information that has nothing to do with you in particular: air quality reports, news articles, traffic camera footage, the Billboard Hot 100. All of it accumulated, filed, cross-­referenced, interwoven. And when

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By: Katie McLean
Title: Dark spaces on the map
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2020/12/18/1013208/dark-spaces-on-the-map/
Published Date: Fri, 18 Dec 2020 11:51:00 +0000

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