Today we are delighted to announce that Maptia is officially launching! Here we share with you an illustrated guide to Maptia, the new storytelling platform on a mission to build the most inspirational map in the world. This post was written by Dorothy Sanders, Jonny Miller, and Dean Fischer, co-founders at Maptia. Illustrations by Ella Frances Sanders.
Maptia is a beautiful way to tell stories about places. It is a new platform designed for thoughtful, inspiring stories that make us want to get out there and explore the world, and each story has its own unique map.
A story could be big or small, a fleeting moment or the tale of a long journey. It could be about a place close to home or on the other side of the world. A story could be told by someone living just over the road or travelling many thousands of miles away. It could be told by you.
Today we are sharing version one of Maptia with the world. It is just a taster, an embryonic version of what we hope to build one day. Head over to our new homepage to check it out. There you will find some of the top stories contributed to Maptia so far, and you can also create your very own beautiful, typographical version of our manifesto.
Read on to learn more about what we are building, the philosophies behind storytelling on Maptia, and our vision for the future.
Over the past six months we have featured an eclectic mix of 47 memorable travel or life moments from places all over the world. Some have been inspiring or uplifting, others have made us want to grab our backpacks and head for the open road, some have made us laugh, and in a few cases some have nearly brought us to tears. Thank you to everyone who has taken part in this wonderful project.
Maptia moment submissions are now closed, but we wanted to end on a high and leave you with the final twelve moments that have found their way to the Maptia HQ from all over the globe.
"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect." - Anaïs Nin
Click below to read the last Maptia moments and see the maps we have created for them...
The relationship between words and their meaning is a fascinating one, and linguists have spent countless years deconstructing it, taking it apart letter by letter, and trying to figure out why there are so many feelings and ideas that we cannot even put words to, and that our languages cannot identify.
The idea that words cannot always say everything has been written about extensively - as Friedrich Nietzsche said, 'Words are but symbols for the relations of things to one another and to us; nowhere do they touch upon the absolute truth.' No doubt the best book we've read that covers the subject is 'Through The Language Glass' by Guy Deutscher, which goes a long way to explaining and understanding these loopholes, the gaps which mean there are leftover words without translations, concepts that cannot be properly explained across cultures.
Somehow narrowing it down to just a handful, we've illustrated 11 of these wonderful, untranslatable, if slightly elusive, words. We will definitely be trying to incorporate a few of them into our everyday conversations, and hope that you enjoy recognising a feeling or two of your own among them.
Click through below to read the full list.
Imagine for a moment that you are reading or listening to a story so intensely that you forget yourself and step into the shoes of the storyteller. You see what they saw, hear what they heard, and feel what they felt. These moments are rare, yet when they happen it is as if we have been transported into their world and we are able to see through their eyes. It is a powerful, almost magical feeling. One that is a privilege.
"The only true voyage, the only bath in the Fountain of Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to see the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to see the hundred universes that each of them sees, that each of them is..." - Marcel Proust
Proust is talking about adventurous empathy. Seeking out new perspectives on the world and ‘possessing other eyes’ - or as Kathryn Schlz said, ‘seeing the world as it isn’t’. Although we would be the first to admit to our shamelessly optimistic and somewhat naive approach both to life and to building Maptia, we firmly believe that:
More than any other time in history, there is a vast and remarkable potential to spread vivid, thoughtful, and imaginative stories via the unfathomably dense communication network known as the Internet.
Travel quotes speak of journeys not to be missed and remarkable places to see, they encourage us to step outside our comfort zones and to live life to its fullest, and they demand that we grab a backpack and set off into the wilderness. Yet when it comes to actually roaming the Earth or even just walking out the front door, it can sometimes be too easy to watch from afar, to live safely, and to be content with living vicariously through the adventures of others.
The best quotations have the power to inspire the reluctant traveller up and out of his door. Sometimes it takes the words of another man (or woman) to remind us of the importance of travel and of experiencing other cultures and ways of life. To remind us that we only get one lifetime on this Earth and that we should take the time to appreciate the remarkable places around us. Whether you are reading logic or wisdom attained centuries beforehand, or discovering a few words in a blog post written by the right person at the right time and place, quotes have the power to inspire action. One sentence can be the difference between dreaming and leaving.
With this in mind, we've illustrated 13 particularly inspiring travel-related quotations. We asked a few well-seasoned travellers for their personal favourites, found others tucked away in inspiring corners of the Internet, and dusted off a few of our own.
Whether you are currently exploring, have just returned from adventures, or are yet to take the leap into the great wide world, we hope you enjoy them. Click below to see our illustrated quotes.
We believe that places are like people and that each has a unique personality. A defining and often delightful aspect of each place’s personality is the way in which time is understood, measured and perceived by the people who live there. Cross the globe and you will encounter many different rhythms of life - some slow, some frantic, some chaotic and changeable, some melodic and rich, and just a few where time goes by entirely untracked.
Many farmers use the subtle variations in seasonal weather patterns to measure the passing of time, while others’ religious beliefs can lead them to live their lives according to the waxing and waning of the moon, and some seafarers still track the time using the predictable arc of the sun, the stars and the moon. Each different culture and place has its own subtle melody and pace of life - time is experienced differently around the world.
When you listen to music, your heart-rate will often subconsciously adjust to the beat and tempo of the song. Likewise, if you spend long enough in a place that has a relaxed way of life, your own internal metronome will adjust to a much slower rhythm. This is one of travel’s less tangible yet more profound experiences - to come to understand and appreciate the way another culture uses time. Some are appreciative and take a meditative approach, while others are afraid that it is simply running away from them.
Click on the link below to read the post in full:
Travellers come in many shapes and sizes. They travel with purpose, or roam aimlessly, instigate change or passively pass through, become consumed by wanderlust, drop off the grid, get lost, and find their way back home. There are as many different types of wandering souls as there are places to go, but today - inspired by Mark Joseph Deutsch's beautiful illustrations - we would like to celebrate one particular type: the traveller who does good.
These helpful people always seem to appear no matter where you go, and have somehow managed to disperse themselves across the planet to even the most remote and inhospitable places. The illustrated list below highlights (while embracing stereotypes) just a handful, and we are sure you will recognise aspects of yourself or a fellow traveller amongst them.
Click below to explore our illustrations.
This is the first post in a two-part series on the cartographies of time. Here, we explore one of the most fundamental assumptions in recent Western civilisation - our perception and measurement of time. We ask where it came from, how it affects the way we live our lives and the role travel has to play in the way we experience time. Part two will trace a handful of unique temporal footprints from different places and cultures around the world.
Travel has a wonderful tendency to make you question your assumptions, from the foods you thought you liked to the way you measure time. It can cause you to question your whole way of life, your morals, your beliefs, the things that really matter to you, and even your purpose here on this planet. Your life is thrown into stark relief by what you see other cultures doing around you and by the unfamiliar experiences you have while on the road. Occasional epiphanies will cause you to realise that the complete opposite of a previously held conviction is true.
If we keep an open mind, travel allows us to imagine ourselves in someone else's shoes, feel what others feel, and understand what shapes people’s world view in other cultures. Psychologists refer to this as ‘cognitive empathy’, which essentially means relating to and having compassion for other human experiences and beliefs. Here at Maptia, we think that collecting stories, fresh perspectives on the world, and an understanding of the nuanced differences between cultures is far more rewarding than collecting souvenirs.
For what seems like a long time now, man has enjoyed the thrills that accompany flight, be it in a haphazard flying machine constructed in a garden shed, one of the first pioneering biplanes, cruising halfway to heaven at 600 mph in an aircraft, or seeing Earth from above while attached to a jetpack or wingsuit. For an even longer time before this, people were only able to speculate about how it might feel to reach up to the clouds and fly among birds, and the idea of flight was downright ridiculous to civilisation until someone achieved it.
Whether you are firmly rooted to the earth below your feet, or have your head in the clouds, hopefully these seven stories from the sky will inspire you in some small way to reach a little higher.
Today we live in a world where we can step into steel-winged cylinders and fly to the other side of the planet. This is incredible, but a side effect of all this efficiency in travel can be to sterilise a sense of adventure. Like entering a cheat code in a computer game, arriving with modern transportation methods can leave you feeling that it was a little too easy.
Enter The Adventurists
The Adventurists have been Britain’s primary exporter of old-school tomfoolery and reckless expeditions for the past decade. Unlike your more traditional adventure tour providers, they proudly operate at the ‘very blunt cutting edge of stupidity’ and are relentlessly fighting to ‘make the world less boring’.
Their founder, a gentleman with a trademark old-school adventure swagger is known only as Mr Tom, has previously admitted that he has a tendency to come up with plans ‘on the wrong side of stupid’. So in order to test the water (or ice) they formed ‘the institute of adventure research’ - a team of brave lemming adventurers who test out future ideas. Here we tell you more about the six expeditions that have made it through their dubious filters so far.
Our lovely intern Ella has also created a beautiful map to pay tribute to The Adventurists crazy expeditions that crisscross the globe each year. Read on to explore the map.
From sketches on the back of a napkin to beautiful hand-illustrated posters, subjective and personal maps often convey the emotions and quirks of places much better than maps that aim for an accurate and objective portrayal of the world. Most maps are designed so that you can find your way and view the world as it is, but sometimes the most delightful and interesting maps are created when we use them to tell stories of the the world as it isn't.
With this in mind, today we are starting a new hand-drawn maps project called 'The World As It Isn't' to explore and collect people's unique perspectives on the places they know and love.
Read on to see the Maptia team's hand-drawn map of where we live and work in Morocco and find out how you can contribute your own map.
Only just over a decade ago the idea that anyone, anywhere, could publish for a global audience was a still a pretty radical concept. Today the Internet is bursting at the seams with content and still it continues to grow at a voracious rate. Some of this content is memorable, some of it is newsworthy, some of it is inspiring, much of it is mediocre, and a huge amount of it is probably not worth our time to sift through. What's more, the growing perception that 'virality' is the holy grail for content combined with the sheer volume of blogs, articles, stories, photos, and videos being posted means that the truly thoughtful and meaningful content is often lost in the noise.
Medium is a new publishing platform that is attempting to tackle this problem. We have very much enjoyed perusing the remarkable selection of authentic and interesting content on Medium over the last few weeks and thought we would share some of our favourite stories, posts, and articles in a curated reading list here on our blog.
The 34 posts we have chosen range from personal contemplations on the act of travel and heartfelt stories from 9-5 escapees, to predictions on the future of photography and ruminations on the role of cartography in the 21st century. Kudos to all the writers who have done a fantastic job on these posts.
Click here or below to see the full list of posts.
From stone-age cave drawings and ancient wafer thin papyrus transcripts, to the painstakingly detailed and hand-drawn maps of the Age of Exploration and right up until the present day, mankind has used maps to make sense of the world, and to 'codify the miracle of existence' as Nicolas Crane once eloquently wrote.
In this smartphone-saturated world we live in, we often think of maps as being synonymous with the road-and-place-name geography that we use for directions. It's easy to forget that even these hyper realistic maps are still abstractions of reality, illusions perpetrating to be objective representations of the world in which we are the central flashing blue dot.
Yet there is a whole world of maps (excuse the pun) which fall outside this narrow definition of what a map should be. At their best, maps allow us to grasp more tangibly at places, sights, sounds and even smells that would otherwise exist only tenuously within our minds and imaginations, and that maps have the power to evoke a sense curiosity, challenge you to question the boundaries and horizons of your small slice of this world, and awake in you an insatiable desire to explore the Earth.
Our favourite maps, like stories, are shamelessly subjective and these maps can be a boundless source of inspiration, delight and creativity. Read on to peruse some beautiful examples of modern day interpretations of the map.
We could write a hundred blog posts and tell a hundred strories yet we would not be able to evoke the perspicacious spirit of adventure better than Walt Whitman does in his 'Song of the Open Road'. It is a celebration of freedom, an evocative call to arms to embrace life on the road. Thank you to Rolf Potts who passed on his passion for Walt Whitman's prose onto us!
Do you want to see the world? Follow a map to its edges? Change hemispheres? If the answer is a resounding 'YES!' then we have an exciting project that we think you will love being a part of...
We are asking each of you, our wonderfully globe-scattered pioneers, to sign the manifesto with your name and take a photo of it (with a couple of friends to help you hold it up) in front of somewhere awesome or interesting or unusual - whether it is in the country you were born in, or somewhere more exotic on your travels. Here's how you can take part...
STEP 1 - Print and sign the manifesto. Download and print a copy of the Maptia Manifesto here and then write your first name in the gap in the first sentence of the manifesto.
STEP 2 - Take a (portrait) photo of your manifesto somewhere awesome. Ask a friend or two (indeed random strangers are usually happy to assist) to quite literally lend a hand and recreate the original manifesto with someone holding each corner.
STEP 3 - Send us your manifesto photo. You can send it to us at email@example.com or tweet it to @Maptia. Be sure to include the following details: your full name, the place it was taken, and the date it was taken - then we can create the special 'polaroid-esque' section for your image (like in the photos below). Feel free to include a link to your website or blog so we can link your photo to you.
Click below to see some of the awesome submissions we have already received and get some inspiration for creating your Maptia Manifesto.
This summer we have been lucky enough to have Ella join us as our lovely Maptia intern. An illustrating, tea-brewing, yoga-teaching, photo-essay-creating extraordinaire, it has been fun welcoming Ella to into the Maptia family. In this post she spills the beans on what being an intern at Maptia is really like. And yes, it does involve making a lot of maps!
At the end of last year, when asked by Maptia's CEO Dorothy (disclaimer: my perfectionist older sister of the compelling, globetrotting variety) whether I would be interested in a summer internship, I tried to give the impression that I was giving it careful consideration and tactically weighing up my options...
Did I want to take up an opportunity that offered me experience in nearly every aspect of life? Probably. Would I want to live and work with 4 unusually awesome people while helping them bring an incredible idea to life? It was likely. And would I be happy with the long hours of sunshine, endless waves and outrageous adventures that Morocco promised? Affirmative.
In fact, the answer was always going to be yes.
If you haven't watched designer Frank Chimero's talk about 'Doing things the long hard stupid way', from the 'DO lectures' series, he talks about how one of the most delightful side effects of designing things for a living is the ability to "put gifts out into the world".
We hope that these hand-written quote postcards we have created can be, as Frank says, miniature 'gifts' to inspire us all to live our lives to the full. If nothing else, we hope they will bring a smile to a few of our readers! Sadly, due to the rather unreliable nature of the local camel post ar our HQ in Morocco, this time around we aren't able to send the real paper versions winging all over the world like our 'Great Outdoors' postcards.
However, we couldn't wait any longer to share our 'Handwritten Quote' postcards with you and have uploaded the high res files here for you to download - enjoy!
And if you have a moment, why not share the postcards with your friends, pin them to Pinterest, use them as your desktop wallpaper or your iPhone background, or even print them out yourself and stick them up on your wall.
Click below to see all the postcards in the full post!
Enter ‘Maptia Moments’, a blog series that we hope will be inspiring and intriguing in equal measure. The idea is for people to share memorable travel or life moments with us, so that we can feature them here on our blog for everyone to enjoy, and so create a collection of awesome 'Moments' from around the world.
We are also hand-picking the most inspiring, moving, funny, or unusual moments we receive and creating a unique map graphic for each of these people.
To begin with we are featuring four of our pioneers who have all kindly taken the time to write down their stories, ones that were experienced while travelling or during everyday life that made a real, lasting impact on them. The type of moment that when they close your eyes they can always recall it with perfect clarity. We have also shared a couple of our own 'Moments' from members of the Maptia team.
Click below to read more and discover the Maptia Moments we have collected so far. Plus find out how you can submit your own 'Moment' for us to share here on our blog!
Today all of India is celebrating the Holi festival - heralding the arrival of spring and the passing of winter. During the day hundreds of thousands of people will pour out into the streets for a crazy, joyful battle with rainbow-coloured powder.
The festival is partly a celebration of the legend of Prahlad - a young follower of Vishnu who despite being carried into fire by the demoness Holika managed a miraculous escape - good triumphed over evil. In fact, there are many legends that are directly linked to Holi, and the reasons for celebration have evolved over time. It is thought that the festival may have existed several centuries before Christ, and although it started out bearing Holika’s name, it is now often simply known as ‘The Festival of Colours’.
The day after the full moon, before the festival began, bonfires will have been lit to remember Prahlad’s escape. Then today, an explosion of movement and colour will be painting entire villages, towns, and cities a myriad of intense colours.
We are always delighted by what Maria Popova manages to dig up over at Brain Pickings - the ‘human-powered discovery engine for interestingness’ - and have long been admirers of her side project, the ‘Literary Jukebox’. Inspired by Maria's musical musings we came up with an alternative take on the idea and have created a ‘Geographical Jukebox’ that combines songs with places.
The sights, sounds, and smells of a place tie the threads of our memories and experiences together. Whether you are on a two-week long expedition to scale the summit of a mountain, or simply gazing out of your window after having arrived on foreign shores - we often strongly associate songs with a time and place, from the small everyday discoveries to those once-in-a-lifetime moments. Music can act a neurological highway and sometimes just hearing a lyric or a few bars of the melody can be enough to transport you back to your childhood, back to a forgotten adventure, or back to a place you once travelled.
We have started with five songs that have a special association to each of us currently working as part of the Maptia team - and shared a short story about the places that we felt were their geographical counterparts. For the next few weeks, once a week, we will ask one of our favourite people on the interweb to share a place and song pairing with us. Then we will add it to the Geographical Jukebox playlist, and hope you will enjoy returning each week to hear the newest addition.
Click below to listen to the songs we have chosen so far and to see the vinyl-inspired maps we have to accompany them.