We Are Here – The future of maps, imagery analysis and culture

Eric Garland Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Alex Bowles is currently Kickstarting a film about how our capacity to map the universe mirrors our entire culture. As we sit on the threshold of a revolution in mapping and imagery analysis, now is the perfect time to think about what this means to all of us.

Wait, some movie about making maps? Important? Cool? Hey, just watch this thing below already. 

Bowles’ key point (watch the thing already!) is that we make maps based on our understanding of the cosmos as a whole. We take incomplete information, originally starlight, to make a model of the universe to show us where we are here on Earth. When the model of heaven and Earth changes, our culture changes right along with it. Just ask Galileo – once people get attached to a relationship between terra firma and the heavens, they are upset to let it go. And we’re on the cusp of yet another revolution.

Get ready.

Imagery analysis as the next great frontier

Imagery AnalysisForget all the crazy images coming off the Hubble (and whoa they are awesome) – think about what our capabilities in geospatial imagery analysis portend. Few people understand the power of maps we can now produce – gravity maps, chemical signatures, heat (and thus climate), and increasingly accurate views of the Earth from space.

We have never, as a species, been able to understand the planet – and who lives on it – in such detail.

If Alex Bowles is right, this will likely lead to a revolution in human culture as we are forced to face unexpected insights about ourselves. But which ones? We don’t know. That’s why this topic fascinates.

Many, many of the myths throughout human culture talk about the impact of a sudden bolus of new information and how it disrupts us. From the Garden of Eden onward, sudden increases in available information (and a paucity of analysis) tends to send our institutions spinning.

I hope this film gets funded. Lend a hand, won’t you?